Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) defensive back Elijah Jones earned his Maryland offer May 12 in a rather unconventional way. The 6-foot-2.5, 175-pounder was performing at a nearby combine in New Jersey, which UMD assistant Brawley Evans was allowed to attend since his son was participating. Evidently Jones caught Evans' eye during drills, and a week or so later he had a Terps' verbal.
"That was pretty convenient," laughed Jones, who also has offers from Rutgers, BC, UConn, Purdue and Army. "At first they wanted me to come to camp before offering, but once Coach Brawley saw me he recommended me. Then I heard from Coach [Pete] Lembo, who recruits me, and he let me know the staff was impressed; they liked my film; and were going to offer me a scholarship.
"It was a great one to get. I like Maryland a lot. I've been watching them play since I was little, and when I play NCAA Football [on PlayStation] I always use the Terps. Plus, my dad's girlfriend went to Maryland and had a great experience there. She told me it's a great place. I'm looking forward to visiting myself."
Which Jones plans to do June 22. He said he'll be in town for a tour and also participate in the Terps' camp.
"I'm excited to meet the coaches," Jones said. "I've already met Coach Lembo, actually, because he's been by the school a couple times. We've been in touch for a good while now; we talk on like a daily basis. We have a mutual respect, and it means a lot that he's been with me for awhile now, even though the offer didn't come right away. He's a really good guy and it's been great getting to know him. He's told me about the school, the facilities they're building, and how the coaches are excited about me."
Several aspects of UMD have Jones' attention at first blush, but it's the academics that stand out first and foremost. Jones said he's grown up in a school-work first environment, so education is at the front of his mind.
"Maryland's very good academically, and that really is one of the main reasons I like them," he said. "They have my major, business, and a great program in that field. Education is a priority for my family, so whatever school has my major and great academics I'm going to look into."
Beyond UMD, Jones has been talking to each of the schools that have offered him, namely UConn and BC. He's been to both Storrs, Conn., and Chestnut Hill, Mass., praising each.
"I liked Boston College a lot. They have my major and it's a great program there," Jones said. "It's a nice place and I've enjoyed it both times I've been. They stand out to me some, although I am considering every school that's offered me. I'm not putting one above another yet."
Besides BC and UConn, Jones has seen Army and Rutgers. He'll be back at BC June 2 for a camp, Rutgers later in June, and then Temple and Maryland.
"I'm thinking about making my [college] decision sometime in August," Jones said. "But if I'm not ready, I'm not going to rush it. I have to see what these visits or like and which schools push for me. But I would like to have an idea where I'm going by the end of the summer."