Three years ago, in September 2013, star DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) receiver Chris Jones had narrowed down his extensive offer list to around a handful of schools, listing Wisconsin and Maryland atop his leaderboard. But although the 6-foot-3, 190-pound three-star had a terrific rapport with then-UMD area recruiter Mike Lockley, he had an even better one with then-Badgers’ receivers coach Chris Beatty.
Jones ended up choosing Wisconsin, but three years later the tables have turned. The former DeMatha standout, who spent a year at Iowa Western C.C. (Council Bluffs, Ia.), announced he was transferring back home and reuniting with Chris Beatty once again.
“Once I found out Coach Beatty was at Maryland, it was like an instant relationship, just like we had back in high school,” said Jones, who has three years of eligibility. “We just kept talking and talking since February, and he was telling me some things with my Hudl [videos] and also to get my transcript right.
“It was a process to see whether or not [the Terps] could give me a scholarship, but they didn’t have the money. But the coaches still wanted me to come as a preferred walk-on and earn the scholarship in the fall. I had to talk it over with my family, because it was a lot to consider, but I decided to go through with it and I’m excited to be coming back home. I’m excited to be going to the school 10 minutes from my high school and near my family in Baltimore.”
Jones’ journey back to UMD took a rather circuitous route. After his senior year at DeMatha, Jones actually failed to qualify at Wisconsin and never enrolled. Thus, he reopened his recruitment and ended up signing with Toledo. But after a year in Ohio, Jones didn’t feel right and elected to go the junior college route.
“I wasn’t in a good place maturity-wise and I was still upset at the Wisconsin thing. Not that I had beef with Wisconsin; I had the power to control it and I didn’t. But I really had to sit down and think about my future in college football, and Toledo just didn’t feel right,” Jones said. “So, I decided to head to Iowa Western and see where things led.”
Jones arrived in Council Bluffs last fall and ended up playing four games for the Reivers. He recorded 10 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. Jones then participated in spring ball before earning his Associate degree and announcing his transfer intentions. Schools such as Syracuse, Washington and UMass had interest and wanted Jones to visit, but once Beatty and Maryland became involved, it was, in effect, a no-brainer.
“Maryland was definitely the front-runner,” Jones said. “Just my relationship with Coach Beatty and also Coach Aazaar [Abdul-Rahim], those were two familiar faces who I was excited to get back in touch with and play for. Even without the scholarship, I was ready to go back.”
Looking back, Jones said he has no regrets with his decision to commit to Wisconsin, or how his career has played out thus far. He said he’s fully focused on his future and making the most out of the next three seasons in College Park, Md.
“No regrets at all. Maryland was a school I liked a lot back at DeMatha, and it was a tough decision for me,” Jones said. “I thought Wisconsin was the best fit, and it might’ve been if I had my academics in order. I didn’t, but now I’m good to go and I have a great opportunity now at Maryland.”
Jones said other than his family and the Maryland coaches, the only person he’s told about his transfer is current UMD receiver Tino Ellis. The close friends are both from Baltimore and attended DeMatha together.
“Tino is definitely excited for me, and I’m excited to be back,” Jones reiterated. “When I went down [to UMD] this week, I just sensed a different vibe there. Everything is changed down there, and the change is coming fast. I like what’s going on there, I like Coach [D.J.] Durkin’s energy and it’s obvious Maryland is moving in the right direction. I can't wait to get up there [Aug. 7.]”