The two-year recruiting cycle that head coach Mike Locksley continued to point to came to fruition to kick off the 2021 cycle as the Terps have found difference-makers within the DMV at key position of needs.
The strength of the class no doubt sits in the front seven, where the defensive line haul of Demeioun Robinson, Marcus Bradley, Taizse Johnson, Tommy Akingbesote and ZionAngelo Shockley puts the unit among the nation's top this cycle. JuCo linebacker Gereme Spraggins and JACK linebacker Terrance Butler give the Terps more assurance to help Maryland improve in the trenches. Nickel corner Jayon Venerable and free safety Dante Trader Jr. give the Terps plenty of athleticism to help replenish the secondary.
With just two scholarship tight ends on the roster, tight ends coach Mike Miller secured an early four-man unit with great blend to compliment the unit. Lakeland (PA) athlete CJ Dippre joins the class as a tight end, though the 6-foot-5 product proved yet again to be a difference-maker at quarterback as a junior. His frame and physicality will help seal the edge but the connection, while St. Frances (MD) H-back/tight end Joseph Bearns has the technique and mean streak to find his niche early in the unit. Formerly at Archbishop Carroll, Flowers (MD) tight end Leron Husbands became the first commit in the unit as he brings in a big frame with soft hands to become a versatile piece, while Florida tight end Weston Wolff has the speed to become a mismatch in the passing attack.
Maryland didn't have to go far to find complimentary backs as "lightning and thunder" add more depth. St. John's (DC) physical back Antwain Littleton carries his 265-pound frame well as he stays light on his feet to sift his way through defenses, while all you need is space for Colby McDonald to break loose. The Terps' first offensive commit and lone Virginia commit is Stone Bridge (VA) wide receiver Tai Felton. With a frame to grow at 6-foot-1, Felton showed good quickness and ball skills despite playing in just five games as a junior. The Virginia wideout is cleared for return as he looks to his senior season with a chip on his shoulder.
Listed below is the full breakdown of Maryland commitments on the SI All-American watch list
The fast-start for the Terps has given them a chance to sift through their recruiting board as they focus on their remaining needs. The void at quarterback looms large as Loyola (CA) quarterback Brayden Zermeno is the lone uncommitted quarterback with an offer. Meanwhile, Maryland has expanded their running back board in recent weeks as Palm Bay Senior (FL) Keyshawn Spencer and Imhotep (PA) running back Tysheem Johnson were named as All-American candidates. With a pair of elite receivers in their backyard, Maryland will hope the longevity of their relationships help reel in Wise (MD) Jalil Farooq and St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (VA) Malcolm Johnson Jr as the elite SEC and Big 12 schools remain in the hunt. Maryland also sits in the top five for Florida receiver Kamonte Grimes, another versatile piece on the outside.
Maryland is set on the defensive side of the trenches, but the offensive side remains a priority heading into the latter months of the cycle as a pair of tackles were named to Wednesday's release. Elite Virginia tackle Tristan Leigh remains a top target for Maryland as LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Clemson are among the long list in pursuit for the agile lineman, while Florida tackle Bruno Zandamela as the towering 6-foot-8 tackle has garnered strong attention on the trail. Finding a successor to senior center Johnny Jordan remains a priority as Bishop Kenny (FL) center Michael Myslinski has the Terps among his final contenders as he closes in on a decision. Defensively, the staff can begin building out their defensive back board more now that cornerbacks coach Henry Baker is in the fold and has found his groove.
Thursday, July 16, Sports Illustrated will reveal its No. 1-ranked overall player, and on Friday, July 17, will unveil the first of its positional top 10 lists (quarterbacks) that it will roll out over the summer. SI will announce its Preseason Top 99 (the SI99) on August 24.
The evaluation process will continue throughout the season “until the list of 1,000 contenders coalesces around just 25 young men who can say proudly they are the best of the best -- they are Sports Illustrated All-Americans,” Garcia said.
The candidates will be narrowed to 250 finalists in October and 99 finalists in November, and will culminate with 25 first-team Sports Illustrated All-Americans saluted at SI’s annual Sportsperson of the Year banquet in New York in December.
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