VIP: Recruiting Heating Up, Nyckoles Harbor Headlines Weekend for Maryland

The recruiting period is in full swing with the transfer portal rolling and coaches flying and driving across the country to put the finishing touches on its 2023 class. Maryland, meanwhile, kicked off a busy week all over the country and made their way closer to home through the week ahead of this weekend’s first big official visit weekend.

After the staff got a chance to check on some juco targets to start the week like Bishop Fitzgerald and Larry Johnson, the latter target promptly came off the board days later after announcing his commitment to Tennessee. Maryland will look to rebound, but some of the staff kicked off the week down in the Carolinas and have made their way back into Virginia and on Thursday night, Maryland checked in with Tennessee verbal Cam Seldon. Maryland was looking to set up an in-home this week to sit with both Seldon and his mom as the staff looks to chip away at his recruitment, but that won’t be the case as they’ll get one-on-one face time with him. Seldon’s contact with Maryland never wavered and he’s kept in constant contact with the staff. As IBG first reported when it happened, getting him and his cousin Denzel Palmer, who remains a PWO candidate, on a second official visit for the weekend of the Ohio State game has added ammo in the chase. Maryland also stopped through Good Counsel on Thursday as they check on Ole Miss verbal Neeo Avery, whose chances of a flip continue to change with each passing day.

Maryland also went in-home with both Rico Walker and Tamarcus Cooley earlier as previously mentioned, while Walker will now take one last official visit to Kentucky. A source out of Lexington expressed optimism in their chances of landing him, while others have remained consistent that Maryland is the team to beat. Cooley, meanwhile, remains a priority to remember this weekend. His status with NC State is up in the air as the Terps remain in hot pursuit. Remember, Maryland was in to check on him when the clock struck midnight on Friday. Meanwhile, Maryland was back down in Florida again this week to check on the Harris twins roughly one month after making the trip over the bye week. Both trips included head coach Mike Locksley as Maryland continues to battle UCF. Though a return trip might not be in the cards just yet, the staff knows what the hurdles are as they chip away with mom in their corner.

As far as the portal, it’s been a hectic week across the country as the staff has their eyes on a number of prospects. Maryland was in to see FIU tight end Rivaldo Fairweather on Wednesday to finalize his official visit to College Park this weekend as the staff works to solidify their standing. Corey Dyches will step into a feature role next offseason while Leron Husbands can help fill some of the blocking duties now void following CJ Dippre’s transfer, but Fairweather would give the room two bonafide weapons to use as the offense is tasked with replacing its playmakers next season. Maryland also found themselves inside the top two for Cincinnati cornerback Ja’Quan Sheppard and despite no in home visit this week, there’s confidence in his recruitment. They’ll look to leave a lasting impression with hometown UCF the other finalist battling, then work on solidifying their standing with an in-home next week. Maryland did go in-home with another portal target, though, with former Cincinnati cornerback and top 2022 target JQ Hardaway back on the market. Maryland is working itself in the mix to become a formidable name to track down the stretch, but he has a host of the nation’s elite also after him. The preexisting relationship between Baker and Hardaway helped get the foot in the door this time around, but no visit plans yet. I see Maryland staying a bit more patient at receiver with Tyrese Chambers in wait-and-see mode with some things left to figure out, while other targets could still enter the portal. Maryland could also reach out to former Syracuse DE Steve Linton and Coastal Carolina OLB Josaiah Stewart in the coming days.

This upcoming weekend will mark the first marquee official visit weekend with five-star athlete Nyckoles Harbor the headliner. It’ll also be the second visit in one week as the staff knocked last Friday’s unofficial visit out of the park with dad on campus, but mom will join them this time around. Maryland remains the biggest challenger to South Carolina with arguably LSU the darkhorse in his recruitment, but Georgia will likely be up next weekend. As far as Maryland, the staff will need to pitch its NIL opportunities and having dinner at the UA HQ this weekend could accentuate that pitch. The fit, playing time will be shown in-depth as Maryland recruits him on the offensive side of the ball and reiterate the instant impact. Maryland didn’t go in-home with Harbor this week as they look to save the visit with Locksley for January.

He’ll be joined by Union County (FL) defensive lineman Markus Strong, arguably Maryland’s top defensive line target through the fall. Strong first burst onto the scene at the start of the season and his standing gradually improved with more film that came out, but the heavy hitters like Oklahoma have jumped into the mix. Safeties coach Wes Neighbors and defensive coordinator Brian Williams are leading the efforts here and while I don’t expect a commitment, Maryland is in a good spot heading into the weekend. Maryland will also get a chance to turn up the heat on NC State verbal Tamarcus Cooley as he’d flip one of two spots at safety.

Maryland verbal Zeke Avit will also make his long awaited official to Maryland. As for Shepperd and Fairweather, Shepperd is expected to officially visit UCF following this weekend while Fairweather is expected to OV to Auburn next weekend. Sounds like confidence sits a bit higher with Shepperd than Fairweather heading into the weekend.

Coffeyville safety Bishop Fitzgerald was originally slated to officially visit this weekend, but that’s been rescheduled and a source says that official is expected for December 16.

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