Maryland hasn't typically recruited the junior college ranks this early in the offseason during coach Randy Edsall's tenure, but evidently the Terps have already offered one post-grad defensive line target. Oxford (Ala.) defensive end Ulric Jones, a former Mississippi State commit who is now at Butler Community College (El Dorado, Kans.), claimed his first offer from the Terps Feb. 20.
"I was thankful for the offer, and it's a great opportunity for me," said the 6-foot-6, 292-pound Jones, who is still debating whether he's going to enroll early or not. "I look forward to visiting them. I'll probably take an official down there sometime in June to see the school, meet the coaches and see what it's all about."
Jones said he was first contacted by new Maryland defensive line coach Chad Wilt. The Butler end discussed how Wilt thought he could contribute early, brought plenty of athleticism, energy and playmaking ability to the table, and would be a good fit in the UMD program.
"It was a real good conversation," Jones said. "I appreciated what he had to say to me. He thinks I can make an immediate impact there and play right away."
The Alabama native said he hasn't done much research on the program, however, nor did he have any previous knowledge of Maryland.
"All I really know is that the guy who created Under Armour, Kevin Plank, went to Maryland," Jones said. "I know they have that Under Armour connection, that's it (laughs). But I'll know more when I visit. I hope to find that homey feeling about it; I'll see what it's all about when I'm out there."
There's a long way to go in Jones' recruiting, however. He has numerous programs pursuing him, many from the power-conference SEC. Jones specifically noted Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and others that have been in contact. In fact, he said he's verbally committed to the Crimson Tide, even though he lacks a firm scholarship.
"Over Christmas break I told [Alabama] I'm verbally committed to them, but it wont be official until Jan. 15," Jones said. "It's kind of a verbal deal right now. I'm hoping it works out. We'll see. Obviously being from Alabama, I'd love to play there, so we'll see."
While Jones admitted he'd love to play at Bama, or at least in the SEC, he didn't want to pigeonhole himself, mentioning that he was "keeping all my options open." He had contact with almost every SEC school coming out of high school and hopes to procure interest from those programs again after a year at the JUCO level.
As far as visits are concerned, Jones hasn't taken any yet this year. The only ones on the docket so far are that aforementioned one to Maryland, plus Alabama and LSU. There are others on the radar depending on what kind of interest they show.
"Alabama, LSU, Maryland… then I plan to take a visit to Mississippi State too since I committed there out of high school," Jones said. "I just didn't qualify out of high school so I couldn't go there. But I'm still looking at them if they want me there."
After a year at Butler CC, Jones said he's improved plenty since his high school days at Oxford. He said his all-around knowledge of the game has risen, along with his fundamentals.
"Just in general I've gotten a lot better since high school," Jones said. "I feel like having another year of experience, and my first year at the collegiate level, I've gotten a lot better. My perspective is I can always get better at everything, but my focus right now is just improving day by day so I can dominate and get to the top levels of football."
While Jones said he still has much to work on, there's one quality he's supremely confident in.
"I'm going to bring energy and passion every down," he said. "If there's one thing and only one thing, I'm going to bring it every play. That's how I play, that's what I pride myself on."
JUCO Jones Plans to Visit UMD
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