After playing his final football season at Maryland, Keandre Jones is preparing for the NFL Draft and encouraging local players to become Terps.
Jones, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker from Olney, Md., originally committed to the Terps in 2014. But head coach Randy Edsall was fired in 2015, and interim Michael Locksley was passed over for the full-time head coaching position. Jones decided to decommit from Maryland in January 2016. Jones signed a letter of intent a month later to play at Ohio State.
But after three years in Columbus, Ohio, where he totaled 29 tackles and one sack, Jones wanted to finish his collegiate career playing at home with Locksley, who took over as the Terps’ head coach in December 2018.
“It was a great opportunity for me to come back home and be around my family and friends,” Jones said on Glenn Clark Radio March 24. “[To] finish out my senior year where I started playing football and to be able to play in the Big Ten was something I always dreamed about. Playing in a league like this and getting to go back and play against Ohio State was a great experience.”
At Maryland, Jones was a team captain. In his one season, he had better stats than he did at Ohio State: 74 total tackles, 15 tackles for loss (tied for seventh in the Big Ten), seven sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
“I think when going to a school like Ohio State where there’s so much talent, you might be overlooked which probably was a case of mine,” Jones said. “Coming to Maryland I was able to perform and do things I knew I could. … To make a big turn was one of my goals [this season] and I have so much more room for improvement.”
Jones started all 12 games for the Terps en route an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection and third-team All-Big Ten honors by Phil Steele. After having success at Maryland, Jones is relaying the message that led to him committing to Maryland in 2014.
“There’s a whole bunch of talent here, we just need those guys to stay,” Jones said.
Around that time, there was a movement taking place that called on the top players from the D.C. and Maryland area to stay home and play for the Terps. The movement saw Jones commit along with current Washington Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins. However, both players ended up playing at Ohio State.
Jones, who attended Good Counsel High School in Olney like teammate Tino Ellis, mentioned the success of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs when talking about local kids who parlayed their career at Maryland into success at the next level. Diggs also went to Good Counsel.
Now preparing for the NFL Draft, Jones is hoping to follow in Diggs’ footsteps to success in the NFL. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has altered every prospect’s path to the draft, Jones hasn’t switched up his training routine.
“I’m doing my part in controlling what I can control,” Jones said. “[I’m] staying ready, still having a routine and not switching up my routine and working out.”
As the NFL Draft nears (April 23-25), Jones says teams will get someone with a high motor who can play multiple roles.
“I’m someone with a high motor. I’m always around the ball sideline to sideline,” Jones said. “I’m aggressive; my game is physical. I’m a smaller linebacker but the game is more spread out now. You got to be able to run with those slots and running backs and that’s what I bring to the table.”
“I can play in the box or outside at that WILL linebacker position,” he added. “I want to be able to do it all. I want to be covering the slot and be able to showcase my ability to pass rush. … You want to go to stay on the field as long as possible, so I see myself as a three-down linebacker.”
For more from Jones, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox