The dead recruiting period is in effect, but that didn’t stop the Maryland staff from adding another key piece from the DMV. Four-star corner Deon Jones (Potomac/Oxon Hill, Md.), a 6-foot-2, 190-pound Washington, D.C., native, elected to end his recruitment a bit earlier than anticipated, opting for the hometown school July 6.
“It’s just a different vibe at Maryland now with the new coaches, and the [hometown] Movement, it’s for real this time,” said Jones, who held offers from Va Tech, Pitt, UNC, UConn, West Virginia and Duke, and at one time was being courted by Clemson; Florida State; Florida; Auburn; Penn State; Michigan State; Tennessee; and Michigan. “With Coach [D.J.] Durkin, Coach Aazaar [Abdul-Rahim] and the other guys, they’re doing something big at Maryland. They’re going to turn the program around just with the [recruits] they’re bringing in. It’s an exciting time at Maryland. I love it, man.”
Jones, who has been a semi-regular in College Park, Md., this offseason, had been in contact with the defensive backs coach Abdul-Rahim since February, when the new Terps’ regime was installed. But the local corner was already quite familiar with Abdul-Rahim well before the latter arrived at UMD. Abdul-Rahim was a fixture in the D.C.-corridor from his days as head coach at Friendship Collegiate Academy (Washington, D.C.).
“Coach Aazaar is my guy and we have a great relationship. We have a real good thing going, and I’ve known him for a long time now,” Jones said. “When we talk, it’s like talking to your brother; he’s just real cool.
“And he’s a great coach too. We’ve went over film and have just gone over coverage drills, things like that, and I can tell he’s a great coach. I feel like he can help me develop and I can keep getting better under him.”
The Potomac product has had more frequent contact with the headman Durkin of late as well. Jones first met Durkin during DMV Day back in the winter, and the two have conversed during the four-star’s subsequent campus visits since then. Most recently, Jones was at Maryland with his team for a mid-June tour and summer camp.
“Coach Durkin just makes you excited about Maryland,” Jones said. “He’s a real cool guy, and his energy is real. Every time I see [Durkin] he gets me so pumped up. He’s been telling me about staying home and being part of something big here at Maryland, like building Maryland into Miami in the 1980s. That’s something that’s real big for me.
“Before, with the old staff, I wasn’t sure I could see myself at Maryland. But it’s a whole new vibe there [under Durkin].”
The Terps’ previous 2017 DMV recruits did their part to lure Jones in too. The corner said he consistently heard from the likes of Kasim Hill (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), Cam Spence (St. John’s) and Ayinde Eley (Good Counsel/Olney, Md.), all of whom bought into Durkin’s message during the past few months.
“Those guys all hit my phone, telling me we can do something big at Maryland and win championships there,” said Jones, who will in turn be actively recruiting teammate Tayon Fleet-Davis, a three-star running back who has Maryland and Syracuse as his two leaders. “Every time I go up there and see them, they’re trying to get me [to commit]. It’s just a home environment there, man. The Movement is real, definitely.”
The various aesthetic upgrades Maryland is underdoing appealed to Jones too. On several previous occasions he’s noted the coming $150 million facility upgrades, the renovated player dorms, the weight room changes and more.
“What they’re doing there with the indoor fields and all that, that’s huge. They’re going to be some of the best facilities in the country, and I can’t wait to see them when they’re done,” Jones said. “And the new strength coach [Rick Court], he’s from the SEC and he’s bringing a new attitude to Maryland. He has a whole new, detailed plan for developing guys there. So I feel like that’s going to be a big thing [for the Terps] too.”
Based on the above comments, it was clear the Terps had been trending for Jones for quite some time. But his July 8 pledge did come earlier than he intended. In late June, Jones let on he wanted to check out Florida, Florida State, Penn State and Clemson. The latter two programs had long been considered favorites, while the former two had recently entered onto Jones’ radar.
But Jones, who is attempting to graduate early, is currently in summer school, precluding him from venturing out to farther away locales (he’d already seen PSU a couple times). Moreover Jones hadn’t had as much contact with staffs from FSU, UF or CU of late, while the Terps’ coaches continued to push in earnest.
“Maryland has shown me the most love. They’ve showed me they really want me there,” Jones said. “I probably have the best relationship with that staff.”
Thus, Jones honored Abdul-Rahim and Co.’s pursuit with a commitment. It gives the Terps a second class of 2017 defensive back, the D.C. native joining Quince Orchard (North Potomac, Md.) three-star Fofie Bazzie.
Jones, though, is a nationally-touted talent, who, when he was at Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.), ranked as the No. 1 corner in the District.
Jones may still wind up at corner, which was his primary position during three years at Carroll, but recently, during 7-on-7 competition, he’s played some safety at Potomac. Jones has acknowledged he can line up at either spot at UMD, and, given his size (6-2, 190 pounds) and 40-yard dash time (4.76 seconds), it’s conceivable he could wind up at safety.
Either way, Jones said he’ll be ready to contribute right away.
“Maryland is recruiting me as a defensive back, and they can use me all over [the secondary],” Jones said before. “For me, I’m just a playmaker, and as long as I’m on the field, it doesn’t matter if I’m a corner or a safety. I feel like when I’m out there, I’ll just make plays.”