Dunbar's Malik Jones happy to be 'rare' Baltimore player headed to Maryland

The Baltimore Sun

The first conversation Lawrence Smith had with Randy Edsall still resonates in the mind of the veteran Dunbar football coach.

“I remember Coach Edsall telling me he wanted to start a pipeline,” Smith said. “I know he’s trying to start a pipeline from here to Maryland.”

On Wednesday, the first piece of the proverbial Dunbar-to-Maryland pipeline was put in place with the commitment of Poets defensive end Malik Jones. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound rising senior, who also held a scholarship from UTEP, earned his offer from the Terps at camp and committed before leaving College Park.

“I knew that I would impress the coaches, but I didn’t think I would impress them that much that they’d offer and I’d commit on the spot,” Jones said Thursday. “It feels great.  It feels real good.”

Most of Jones’ game experience has been at left tackle, where he started for the Class 1A-champion Poets. But Smith said the Maryland coaching staff set its eyes on Jones for defensive end from the start.

“[The Terps coaches like his] technique, strength, speed,” Smith said. “He’s real athletic. He’ll probably be able to [rush the passer and fill gaps in the middle] in the defense [Maryland is] going to run. [Defensive coordinator Brian] Stewart is bringing a pro package. He fits into the scheme Coach Stewart will run.”

At Maryland’s camp, Jones settled in with the defensive linemen immediately. While he didn’t expect to earn a scholarship during the workouts, he could tell pretty quickly that the coaches were serious about evaluating him.

“I could tell [defensive line coach Greg] Gattuso and the other helpers -- I wouldn’t say focused -- but they were watching me a lot and stuff, helping me,” Jones said. “Coach Edsall came over a couple times to look at me. That hyped me up and made me go harder.”

When camp ended and Jones received his offer, he parted ways with the coaching staff and chatted with his father, who suggested that he “may as well commit right there on the spot.” Jones found Gattuso, told him what he wanted to do, and then told Edsall the same. Just like that, Maryland had its first Dunbar pledge since before Smith could remember.

“It’s very rare for a Baltimore guy to go to Maryland,” Jones said. “I’ve been trying to talk to our quarterback, William Crest. I’ve been trying to sway him already. He’s not sure where he’s going to go yet.”

For now, Jones is content to represent Baltimore at Maryland and pave the way for more Poets to follow his lead to College Park. The Dunbar coach said he’d be just fine with that.

“A lot of kids want to play for their state school,” Smith said. “It’s definitely a blessing that comes along with it.”

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