One thing that stands out about Gilman defensive end Mattheus Carroll is his hustle on every play. The score, the opponent, the scheme — irrelevant. Because of that work ethic, Carroll has been on the radar of many Football Bowl Subdivision programs, despite the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on recruiting.
Since the virus has crushed the ability to meet in person, Carroll has had to rely on phone interviews and video calls to speak with recruiters. Although the process of his recruitment has changed, he said that the extra time to consider each program is a blessing in disguise.
“Recruiting for me has honestly slowed down," Carroll said. “I guess it’s good because it gives me time to evaluate. My offers hadn’t come in as rapidly as I’d say they were in February or March. It’s been a lot of phone calls and Zoom meetings to join in with the coaches and talk to them. It’s been nice. The coaches have been sending me a lot of videos and articles on their schools and I’m tuned in. It’s all been good."
Carroll is listed as a three-star prospect, the 52nd-ranked weak-side defensive end in the country and the 27th-ranked player overall in the state of Maryland’s 2021 class, per 247Sports. In 2019, he hustled and slashed against some of the top offensive linemen in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association to register 11 sacks, parlaying his defensive performance into an All-MIAA selection and spot on the Baltimore Touchdown Club Super 22 team. He also is a tight end for the Greyhounds, providing a big target for rising sophomore quarterback Matthew Parker.
The Gilman standout has received 19 offers and shortened his list to 10 programs — Cincinnati, Duke, Louisville, Maryland, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Temple, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech — on April 14. He had a few visits to go before the coronavirus dashed his plans.
“I planned to head to South Carolina and Louisville a week after the dead period had ended,” Carroll said. “It’s kind of unfortunate, but I’m still optimistic that I’ll be able to get those visits in. And Vandy was another one that we were working on. We just haven’t scheduled it yet. Like I said, South Carolina and Louisville we had scheduled. They were the only two [for sure], but I had Vandy, I know Duke was there and I was going to continue to court Maryland. I tried to get all of the visits in, but everything got shut down.”
The Terps have continued to try and keep players in state. They’ve had to compete against the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Duke and Penn State to carve their own way within the confines of a difficult Big Ten East schedule.
Maryland went 3-9 (1-8 Big Ten) last season, but it doesn’t reflect the job that coach Mike Locksley and his staff have done with recruiting. The Terps currently have the 12th-ranked class in 2021 with 10 commitments — six of them being from the state, per 247Sports.
Four of the Maryland commits are from the Baltimore area — tight end Joseph Bearns and defensive end ZionAngelo Shockley are from powerhouse St. Frances, cornerback Dante Trader played for 11-1 McDonogh and Jayon Venerable was a spark plug for Archbishop Spalding. The Terps have intrigued Carroll, who would be a welcome addition to a defense that allowed 34.7 points per game in 2019.
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“I think about that often — just playing for your hometown team, that carries a lot more weight,” Carroll said. "Playing for them every Saturday is a lot more emotional. I think that’s great and I’ve been paying attention to their commitments lately and it’s definitely encouraging to see those local guys that I’ve grown up with, playing ball with, making their commitments. Honestly, if all of us top guys decide to go there, it’s really like a [DMV] All-Star team.
“It’s always a comparison to LSU because their guys are local. It’s a good deal and I’m definitely paying attention to the commitments when they come around — looking for the 247 articles and all of that. It’s big time though. Playing for your home state carries a whole lot of weight emotionally.”
Loyola Blakefield quarterback Jordan Moore is a Duke commit. Moore went on Instagram to attempt to lure the Gilman product to the Blue Devils. The school was one of the first to be interested in Carroll’s abilities on and off of the field. For that reason, the young defensive end put the school on his top-10 list.
“Duke is really good — they’ve been really good to me,” Carroll said. "Honestly, they’ve been one of my earlier schools and offers and they’ve been consistent throughout. That’s a really nice thing, a really intriguing thing — Coach [Ben] Albert and Coach [David] Cutcliffe have been in my ear a whole lot. I’ve gotten to build a relationship with those two specifically and also the rest of the staff throughout when they offered me in November.
“That’s been great and I do believe in their ability to make me a really good football player and the education, man, that’s second to none. So, they’ve got a good thing going and I’ve got a ton of love for Duke. I’m going to continue to build the relationships and stay in touch.”