COLLEGE PARK — Jacquille Veii used his speed and quickness to get open out of the slot, made a sliding catch across the middle during team drills and later made a 25-yard reception during the two-minute portion of practice.
The Maryland sophomore was in only his first day as a slot receiver after being moved from running back Monday, but he flashed some skills at his new position during practice Tuesday night.
“Yeah. I saw that,” Terps senior linebacker L.A. Goree said. “I didn’t even know he played slot. But I definitely think he’s a great. He’s quick. He’s hard to stick. They had me checking him in one-on-ones. I did the best I could do, but [he’s got] 4.43 speed.”
The 5-foot-9, 187-pound Veii had been competing for playing time at running back, but Maryland is deep at the position with juniors Brandon Ross and Albert Reid and sophomore Wes Brown. The move to wide receiver likely gives Veii a better chance to get on the field, although the Terrapins are deep there, as well.
“One thing is he’s a guy that is a dynamic guy for us,” coach Randy Edsall said. “You can’t play four tailbacks. You just can’t do it. Putting him out there, I think that helps us. It helps the wide receiver [group]. It gives us a guy that has a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm and can block. It enhances us from an offensive standpoint that we put him there.
“One of the things he’s demonstrated through practice and his hard work is that he deserves an opportunity to be out on the field helping our team win in whichever way he can. He was excited about the move, and it’s something we think is going to benefit us quite a bit.”
Veii said he played some slot receiver in high school at the Avalon School in Bethesda and had 20 catches as a senior in 2012, but he joked that his route-tree consisted of go-routes and corner routes.
“I didn’t run routes like I do here,” Veii said. He says he is raw as a route-runner as a result.
“In my head when I’m running, my body feels kind of awkward,” Veii said. “But then when you watch it on tape, you’re like, ‘OK, that looks natural,’ so I’m just trying to work and clean up my technique and just mold my clay at receiver right now.”
It does help that Veii ran routes with Maryland’s wide receivers during summer workouts. But now, Veii will just try to acclimate to his new position while attempting to earn playing time.
“I don’t think it will take him too long,” Edsall said Tuesday. “He was in here late last night … until bed check. He was in here today after the morning session watching film. Some of the things he’s doing there he did as a running back because we did some things with the running backs at that position. It won’t take him long. I’m not worried about that with him.”