Jones Latest Local To Jump On Terps Bandwagon

And so the second domino has fallen. A little less than five months after Maryland landed its first local class of 2016 commitment in DeMatha’s (Hyattsville, Md.) Lorenzo Harrison, his nearby rival, Good Counsel’s (Olney, Md.) Keandre Jones, lit up the #MarylandPride bat signal.

And so the second domino has fallen.

A little less than five months after Maryland landed its first local class of 2016 commitment in DeMatha’s (Hyattsville, Md.) Lorenzo Harrison, his nearby rival, Good Counsel’s (Olney, Md.) Keandre Jones, lit up the #MarylandPride bat signal. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Jones, a junior outside linebacker with offers from UMD, Iowa, Kentucky, Penn State, UVA and West Virginia, said he was ready to become the next local leader Dec. 1.

“Of course I saw what Lorenzo did at DeMatha, and that definitely caught my eye and made me take a closer look at Maryland,” said Jones, a South Germantown native who began opening the eyes of the DMV high school powers around the sixth grade. “I think him committing really changed the game for a lot of us in the DMV. I know he’s a really good player at DeMatha, and hopefully he’s working on getting some of his teammates to Maryland, just like I’m going to be working on my teammates and some guys I know. I’m going to be telling all these guys Maryland is a great place and can get them to where they want to go. It’s time to get this thing rolling.”

Jones has heard the “stay-home" mantra since he was a freshman. It was shouted by current Terps like Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown during junior days, texted and tweeted from every UMD staff member, and whispered through the various high school grapevines -- a whisper that’s growing louder and louder. Already the Terps are on the minds of nearby 2016 stars like Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), Tino Ellis (DeMatha), Jauan Williams (Carroll/Washington, D.C.), Terrell Hall (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), Terrance Davis (DeMatha), Brennon Dingle (Spalding/Severn, Md.), Keith Simms (Landon/Bethesda, Md.) and others.

“The feeling right now is that Maryland can take the next step,” Jones said. “I believe it can happen, obviously Lorenzo believes it can happen, and there’s a lot of guys around here who believe it can happen. My class coming it, we can make it happen at Maryland. We can turn the program into not just a Big Ten contender, but a contender for a national championship. That can happen here.”

Jones admitted he took a long, hard look at what Maryland could become if the elite locals all stay put, but his main reason for committing was actually more personal. He said his decision Dec. 1 was “out of the blue,” and it just “felt right” after talking to his family over Thanksgiving break.

“I kind of kept everyone in the dark,” laughed Jones, who hasn’t been in College Park since the UMD-Ohio State game and really hadn’t been exchanging many messages with the staff prior to his pledge. “A lot went down, man, a lot went down. It was all about family. Just my mom, her being able to see my games and not having to travel, that’s really what it came down to.

“And, of course, you see and hear about those new facilities, and that made it attractive too. Who wouldn’t want to practice in those new facilities? They’re sweet. And just what Coach [Randy] Edsall is building there, it’s something I believe in. I’m all for it – family, academics and football. That’s how we’re going to get it done at Maryland.”

The Good Counsel backer said he did have a good relationship with area recruiter Mike Locksley, the two having known each other for three-plus years. But Jones admitted Locksley had less to do with his commitment then “doing what was best for my family.”

“Coach Locks, he would always tell me, ‘Anything you need, Maryland can make it happen,’” Jones said. “He would always talk about family and how guys like Jesse [Aniebonam], Stefon [Diggs] and guys like that, how they loved playing in front of their family and friends. And in the end, that’s what it came down to.”

Speaking of Aniebonam, the former Good Counsel edge rusher deserves an assist for the Jones pop. Jones said of all the current Terps he knows, he’s closest with Aniebonam.

“I just talked to Jesse a couple weeks ago, and we really didn’t talk about Maryland or anything,” Jones said. “But I did ask him about family, and how it was there with the coaches and what it was like to play in front of his family. And he said it was great; he was really having a good time just having his parents around to see him play. So that meant a lot to me.”

Jones said he did pay close attention to this year’s Maryland squad and believes the arrow is pointing up for Randy Edsall’s program. He said considering it was the Terps’ first year in the Big Ten, he was impressed with their play and how they knocked off Michigan and Penn State on the road.

“I think there were a lot of doubters, a lot of people who didn’t think they’d have a good year,” Jones said. “But I had a feeling they’d get to a bowl game and win some games, and here they are – seven wins. They’re constantly doing different things, finding ways to win.”

Now, Jones is hoping to help UMD win a few more games. He said he’s slotted to play that hybrid outside linebacker-safety role currently occupied by Matt Robinson. Jones was originally a safety at Good Counsel before bulking up and moving to linebacker his sophomore year.

“Man, I play such a dynamic role in high school I feel like I can do everything for their defense -- cover, blitz, tackle, drop back,” said Jones, who had 67 tackles and a sack this year. “I can fit and help anywhere I’m needed. I’ll find out more when I get there in two years. Right now I’m just happy to be committed.”

Said commitment actually went down a little unconventionally. Jones said he couldn’t directly speak to Edsall, so he had his coach call up Maryland’s headman and let him know he was on board. Then Jones sent Locksley a text:

“And I [texted him], ‘Let’s get it,’” Jones said. “I’m just thrilled right now, man. This is the right place for me; it’s the right choice. I was born and raised here, so this was easy for me. It’s all about staying home, playing in front of family, and representing your hometown school.”

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