After a long recovery from a torn ACL suffered in 2019, Maryland wide receiver Jeshaun Jones will return to the field for the Terps during their season opener against Northwestern Oct. 24 — and he is looking to finally build on a historic freshman debut.
Jones appeared in all 12 games of his freshman season in 2018 and scored seven touchdowns (five receiving, two rushing). He recorded 22 receptions for 288 yards and 18 rushes for 173 yards. Jones made history in his college debut against Texas in September 2018. His first career touch was a 28-yard touchdown run; his second was a 65-yard touchdown catch, and his third resulted in a touchdown pass.
Jones is the only recorded player to post passing, rushing and receiving touchdowns on his first three touches of his college career. After that performance, he was named the National Freshman of the Week by CBS Sports and Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week and earned a spot on the Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll.
Now, he wants to pick up where he left off.
“I want to win. I want to do whatever it takes to win. That’s my biggest goal. But I do want to get back out and show myself and everybody else that nothing’s really changed,” Jones said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 9. “That’s what I’m really trying to get back to, and that’s why I’m going hard day in and day out — just to get back to have that opportunity on the 24th to show everyone that everything’s still the same.”
Jones was a four-year starter at South Fort Myers High School in Fort Myers, Fla., and was a consensus three-star recruit. During his senior season, he recorded 30 catches for 359 yards and three touchdowns, and as a junior, he posted 28 catches for 491 yards and five touchdowns.
After that productive high school career, Jones brought his skills to Maryland. He was expected to be the Terps’ top option at wide receiver in 2019, but he was forced to sit out after tearing his ACL during training camp. He declared himself good to go this summer, but he will have to wait until later this month for the season to start.
“It was my family and close friends that just kept my mind right and told me to keep going and work hard so when the gates do open, I’ll be ready. That’s all I’ve been trying to do and that’s what I did do,” Jones said about his recovery process. “It’s been a roller coaster. It’s been a lot of different emotions and feelings and stuff. … It’s been crazy. It’s been a different time.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Big Ten initially postponed the fall sports season in August. The conference reversed course Sept. 16 and later released a nine-game conference schedule for each team.
“It was kind of tough for me a little bit, not going to lie. After working so hard throughout the offseason to get back, and then we finally get here — at one point we were not going to have a season,” Jones said. “… It was going to be almost two years since I had played football if this season got canceled.”
The last few seasons have been rough for Maryland, which went 3-9 in 2019, 5-7 in 2018 and 4-8 in 2017. But with Taulia Tagovailoa or Lance LeGendre under center, the Terps are looking to improve their record. Jones described both of the quarterbacks as hard workers who benefit the team.
LeGendre, a redshirt freshman, appeared in three games in 2019 before being injured late in the season. Tagovailoa transferred from Alabama this year in search of an opportunity to compete to be a starting quarterback.
“[LeGendre is] a big guy, he can throw, he can run, he’s very talented and he’s a hard worker. I feel like those are all of the key ingredients to what a team’s looking for out of a quarterback,” Jones said.
“[Tagovailoa is] a great guy, great leader, great quarterback. … He knows a lot about the game. He can throw it and he can run also — and he’s a really hard worker, too,” Jones said. “I almost didn’t get a break this summer because of those two.”
Regardless of who is under center for Maryland, it’s a safe bet Jones will be one of his top targets. When asked how it is going to feel to return to the field, Jones said, “I really can’t even tell you. … I know there’s going to be a lot of emotion. I’m going to be really excited. … I’m just super excited to have the opportunity, that’s what I’ve been telling all of these guys.”
For more from Jones, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox