College football's latest silly season will get under way at 12:01 a.m. Thursday with the end of the dead period of recruiting and the beginning of the last contact period before signing day, which is Feb. 3. During a contact period, coaches are allowed to visit a prospective recruit at his high school or out of school and recruits can visit schools to meet with coaches.
It's the sprint to the finish, and things can get a little crazy — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh told the nation's top kicker, a Penn State commit, that he'll be at his house at 12:01 a.m. and spend the night.
For Maryland, the next few weeks have added significance. The Terps coaching staff is trying to round out its class and address positions of need while also accounting for the attrition in the class after some recent decommitments. Coach DJ Durkin has put together a staff of ace recruiters, and it's their first chance to put that prowess on display.
Here are a few storylines to watch over the next few weeks as Maryland's Class of 2016 begins to take shape.
Maryland's future quarterback
Blue-chip quarterback prospect Dwayne Haskins Jr. has been the most visible face of Maryland's recruiting class since his commitment in May. But with the changeover of staff — Haskins' primary recruiter was former offensive coordinator Mike Locksley — the Bullis School product's future is a bit murkier.
Haskins, a four-star prospect, visited Florida in late November and Ohio State in December, and LSU is "hotly pursuing" him, according to The Advocate. Losing Haskins would be a major blow to Maryland, given his visibility as a face of "the movement" for top local prospects to stay close to home, and because of the Terps' quarterback struggles in 2015.
But if Haskins does flip his verbal commitment, Maryland is lining up some contingency plans. Four-star quarterback Devon Modster of Tesoro High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., received an offer Sunday night, and three-star Ty Pigrome of Clay-Chalkville High School in Pinson, Ala., will take an official visit to Maryland on Jan. 29, according to ESPN.
Modster, who is listed at 6 feet 2 and 215 pounds, is a former Arizona commit, and he's the No. 13 pro-style passer in 247sports.com's composite rankings. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Pigrome is a dual-threat quarterback.
Terps reaching into Florida
Durkin, the 2012 Rivals.com Recruiter of the Year, has extensive ties to the south from his time at Florida, and he has said that he'll make recruiting in Florida a priority during his tenure in College Park. The Terps have doled out a number of offers to recruits in the Sunshine State.
Maryland offered a trio of Florida prospects who were committed to Minnesota on Dec. 19 — four-star Under Armour All-American wide receiver Dredrick Snelson Jr. of Flanagan High School and three-star defensive backs Elijah Daniels and Elisha Daniels of Cardinal Gibbons High School. And over the weekend, Elijah Daniels and Elisha Daniels publicly announced their decommitments from Minnesota.
Three-star cornerback/wide receiver Armunz Mathews of North Florida Christian in Tallahassee, Fla., is also considering scheduling a visit to Maryland, according to Syracuse.com. Mathews is committed to South Florida.
These are just a few notable names from Florida, and plenty more could pop up between now and signing day.
Needs in the defensive backfield
Maryland has had three defensive backs — South Carroll's Silas Kelly, Parnell Motley of H.D. Woodson in Washington, D.C., and Tyrone Hill of Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey — decommit over the past month. With three starters from the 2015 squad exhausting their eligibility, it's a position of need, and it's one the Terps appear to be addressing aggressively.
Mathews, Elijah Daniels and Elisha Daniels are all defensive back prospects, and three-star J.J. Givens of Atlee High School in Mechanicsville, Va., put Maryland in his top six. He'll make his announcement on Feb. 1, and the Terps are in the running with Clemson, Arizona State, South Carolina, Michigan State and Wisconsin.
It's a position the Terps are trying to address — they also offered Wisconsin commit Eric Burrell of McDonogh and three-star K.J. Sails of East Bay High School in Gibsonton, Fla., in December — with next year's unit set to be young, save for rising senior cornerback Will Likely, who announced last week he's returning for his senior season.
On Thursday, Sails tweeted he'll make his decision on signing day and he has Maryland in his final five with Rutgers, South Florida, West Virginia and Cincinnati.
According to 247sports.com, Maryland has offered 21 cornerbacks and 12 safeties in the Class of 2016.
Five-star visiting campus
Maryland had a three-year streak of nabbing five-star recruits — Stefon Diggs in 2012, Deon Long in 2013 and Damian Prince in 2014 — snapped last season, but Durkin and company could be in position to restart it.
Five-star defensive end Terrell Hall of St. John's in Washington, D.C., tweeted he'll be taking an official visit to Maryland this weekend. Hall is a one-time Ohio State commit, and the Terps are competing with college football blue bloods such as national-champion Alabama and Florida State for his commitment.
The Terps suffered some key losses along the defensive line this offseason with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson declaring for the NFL draft. Maryland went deep into its rotation along the defensive line, but Ngakoue and Jefferson were the two most consistent contributors. So if Hall decides to stay home with Maryland, he could have immediate playing time.