Gilman defensive end Mattheus Carroll saw that his recruitment was beginning to slow down during the coronavirus pandemic, but he still received a litany of calls. It didn’t stop him from narrowing his choices to Duke, Maryland and Virginia Tech on Memorial Day.
Each school has an inside track, with Duke making the first pitch from the Football Bowl Subdivision level. Carroll has built a relationship with the program and has continued to hear pitches from Loyola Blakefield quarterback and Duke commit Jordan Moore.
“With Duke, it was a no-brainer for me,” Carroll said. “It gets no better than there with the coaching and the relationships that I’ve built with Coach [David] Cutcliffe and Coach [Ben] Albert and I trust those guys. It’s been a close relationship throughout the process. I had really, really good experiences with the players — it’s like a family vibe that they had, especially the D-line group, even just the whole team.
“A lot of times, Jordan will speak the same way that coaches do with education. Sometimes, he’ll throw in a little bit of jokes ― he’ll talk about being friends with the Duke basketball players. That’s big and those are future NBA stars, which is something I really kind of thought about. It just hit me when he said it.”
Carroll is a three-star prospect, the 52nd-ranked weak-side defensive end in the country and the 27th-ranked player in Maryland in the Class of 2021, per the 247Sports Composite Rankings. He had 19 offers before shortening his list to 10 in April that also included Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Temple and Vanderbilt.
Playing for a team in his home state is something that the rising senior has envisioned for quite awhile. Carroll sees Maryland coach Mike Locksley as someone who wants to bring prominence back to the program and build a proverbial wall around the state for recruiting. Locksley’s local ties as a Towson graduate and Washington native have further piqued Carroll’s interest, despite the team’s 3-9 record in 2019.
“I had taken pride in most visits at Maryland and every single one of them has had me coming back,” Carroll said. “It was just a good deal with them. I like the thing that they are doing with selling their vision. Coach Locksley will have local guys and compete for a national and Big Ten championship. I would say that they are a little far from that right now, but they are getting closer and better every day. Everything that they are talking about, they are doing. Actions speak louder than words to me. That’s encouraging to see.”
Locksley’s recruiting prowess has built excitement, led by the Terps’ 31st-ranked 2020 class featuring four-star outside linebacker Ruben Hyppolite II and running back Peny Boone, as well as five-star wide receiver Rakim Jarrett. The Terps’ 2021 class is set to be even stronger with four-star defensive tackles Taizse Johnson, Tommy Akingbesote and Marcus Bradley, and weak-side defensive end Demeioun Robinson.
The hype has led to Maryland fans reaching out to Carroll and other players to ask them to be a part of a growing program.
“It truly means a lot from your hometown,” Carroll said. “I get a lot of hometown love from the fans when I posted my top three on Monday. Local fans of Maryland are showing love. It just means a lot playing for your hometown because it means that you have something to carry on game day. Also, it’s definitely going to be fun playing with all of the top guys that I know locally that I played against. All of it carries a lot of weight and it’s a good picture that Maryland has potential.”
Virginia Tech has stuck around and built Carroll’s comfort level with the program as well. Co-defensive line coaches Darryl Tapp and Bill Teerlinck both have NFL ties that have been mesmerizing for Carroll.
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Tapp played in the NFL for 12 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks (2006-09), Philadelphia Eagles (2010-12), Washington Redskins (2013), Detroit Lions (2014-15), New Orleans Saints (2016) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2017). Teerlinck coached in the NFL for eight seasons with the Indianapolis Colts as a defensive assistant (2007-11) and with the Buffalo Bills as the assistant defensive line coach (2017-19).
“Virginia Tech — it’s really the two D-line coaches and their resumes,” Carroll said. “They have endless amounts of knowledge with playing and coaching at the next level in the NFL, which is my goal. It’s really no better place for my goal than at Virginia Tech with those two guys at the helm. I made up a lot of time with Virginia Tech — with them coming later on. It’s all definitely been worthwhile."
Education is also a big priority for Carroll, and picking his top three schools had just as much to do with the quality of his degree as it did with football. His oldest brother, Maurice, is involved in business and shaped his viewpoint on what kind of career to pursue.
“I want to major in sports management and marketing,” Carroll said. “I don’t really know quite yet what I want to do as a career, but I do that there’s a ton of money in college sports. I’m a sports guy and I come from a sports family. Business has always been an interest with me — just taking classes at Gilman. Talking to teachers, my brother is a huge business guy, I have a cousin who has made a lot of money in the business world. It’s definitely something that I’m interested in.
“Each of them have the opportunity to give me tons of experience. Maryland is right in between Baltimore and D.C., two metropolitan areas, with endless amounts of opportunities with jobs and internships. Virginia Tech is a little more secluded with their location, but they have a good alum system with a lot of networks there. Duke with their alums and they’re also in Durham. It’s a little bigger of a metropolitan area than Blacksburg, but Duke has a great network down there.”