The No. 1 2017 recruit in Washington, D.C., cornerback Deon Jones (Archbishop Carroll), resides in the University of Maryland’s backyard, although he’d yet to trek over to College Park, Md., since the fall. Which meant, aside from brief interactions with new UMD-area recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, the four-star hadn’t met head coach D.J. Durkin formally -- or the rest of the regime for that matter.
But Feb. 13, the Terps’ first major offseason visit date, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder finally had an opportunity to take in new-look Maryland.
“That was my first time meeting the new staff at Maryland, and I really enjoyed all of them,” said Jones, who claims offers from the likes of Clemson, Florida State, Florida, Michigan, MSU, Auburn, Georgia, Penn State, UNC, Nebraska, NC State, Pitt, Ohio State, South Carolina, Wisconsin, WVU, Vanderbilt, UVA, Duke, Va Tech and more. “It was a lot of fun up there, seeing all the DMV kids, and then just seeing how the coaches showed a lot of love. What I really liked is that the coaches weren’t just showing me love or the main guys, but they were talking to everyone there, which you don’t always see.
“So I would say it’s a different vibe at Maryland, definitely, and I can honestly say I think the Movement is for real this time. I know the old coaches talked about [the hometown movement], but it’s just a different environment at Maryland now, and I really like it.”
Jones thoroughly enjoyed sitting down with his position coach, Abdul-Rahim, as well as interacting with Durkin. He said both spent time with him one-on-one, giving the corner a chance to get to know each on a more personal level.
“Coach Aazaar, he’s a great guy, but he was just telling me that someone’s got to get this thing started [at Maryland]. He was saying how I could get it moving with guys coming there,” Jones said. “And then we were just watching a little film, going over some coverage drills and things like that. Coach Aazaar is a great coach and we have a pretty good thing going. I like what he’s telling me about Maryland and what I can do in the defense.”
The Carroll product had similar sentiments in regards to Durkin. Jones said he, his head coach and his mentor all had an extended chat with the Terps’ headman, each leaving the meeting excited about Maryland’s direction.
“Coach Durkin was great to talk to, and he makes you excited about Maryland,” Jones said. “He was telling us how things are going to be different up there, and it’s a different mindset moving forward. Then he was talking about the new facilities and how they’re going to be ready for [the 2017 recruits] and we’ll be able to take advantage of them.
“We were all very excited after that, and my coaches were saying how they’re bringing the [Carroll] team up to all the camps they have there. We’ll be back in the spring for some practices too.”
Jones, who has been in College Park several times previously, including two home games during the fall, had already toured the campus before. But he did get to see the weight-room renovations and meet the new strength-and-conditioning coach, Rick Court.
“I like how the weight room is set up differently. It looks nice,” Jones said. “And the new strength coach, he’s from the SEC and he’s bringing a new attitude to Maryland. He has a whole plan for who he’s going to develop student-athletes at Maryland. It’s very detailed, Monday through Friday, with a whole list of specific things he wants us doing. So he’s definitely going to change things, and I feel like Maryland hiring somebody like that shows they’re trying to change too.”
After checking out the football facilities, Jones said he and his coaches had to leave, so they were unable to check out the basketball game in Xfinity Center. But even though the four-star didn’t get to experience the hyped student section, he left buzzing about the Terps.
“The Terps are definitely very high for me,” Jones said. “At first, I wasn’t really vibing with the old staff, but the new staff, it’s opened my eyes. I don’t want to put out a favorites list yet, because I really am trying to keep things open, but Maryland is definitely right there for me. I’m feeling the vibe at Maryland.
“I’d say Maryland, Clemson, Florida, Florida State and Michigan State are some of the schools I’m really vibing with right now.”
Besides UMD, Jones also took in Clemson’s junior day recently. The Tigers are another prime contender, with many analysts already forecasting the D.C. corner to Death Valley.
Jones doesn’t have any visits coming up, although he said he’d like to return to UF and FSU, two programs he checked out last year.
“I definitely wanted to get to Clemson and definitely Maryland; those were my two priorities for visits. I got both of those done, but now I’m not sure what’s next,” Jones said.
Jones also mentioned that he wants to graduate Carroll early. Which means his goal is to have his recruitment wrapped up by late November or early December.