COLLEGE PARK -- Malik Jones had one of the biggest hits of Maryland’s preseason practice thus far, a nasty running blow to the chest of then-running back Jacquille Veii that could be heard across the field and left Veii on the ground for a few moments as he tried to catch his breath.
Matt Gillespie, meanwhile, had multiple tackles during the Terps' scrimmage Saturday, including one that stopped running back Wes Brown for a 4-yard loss after Gillespie broke through the middle of Maryland’s offensive line and into the backfield.
Jones, a redshirt freshman who played at Dunbar, is a scholarship player battling for playing time as a reserve defensive end, while Gillespie is a walk-on trying to make the transition to inside linebacker after playing defensive end at Loyola.
Both players have stood out at times through two weeks of preseason camp.
Maryland coaches viewed Jones as a bit of a project when he signed with the Terps last year, but he has since added 20 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame -- up to 265 from 245. Terps coach Randy Edsall said Jones is also noticeably further along as a player than he was as a freshman last year.
“I think Malik has done a good job,” Edsall said last week of Jones, who had 70 tackles and 18 sacks as a senior at Dunbar. “The one thing I’m pleased with with Malik is kind of twofold.
"One, he’s put on quite a bit of weight since he’s gotten here. He’s stronger, and you can see how much he’s grown and developed and picked things up. He’s not anywhere near where he’s going to be. If he continues to work and he continues to be coachable and continues to study and prepare the proper way, he’s got a chance to be a really good defensive end for us.
“I like his mindset, and I like his focus for us. He’s just young and that’s what we do. When we recruited him, we knew he’d be a guy that developed. We saw a guy with work ethic and had the size to him and he’d been able to put on the weight. So far, he hasn’t disappointed. Where that ends up for him this year, we’ll see. He’s doing all the things that you should be doing to put himself in the hunt to earn playing time.”
Gillespie likely will redshirt, but he saw time with Maryland’s second-team defense during the Terps’ scrimmage Saturday with starting inside linebacker Cole Farrand not playing.
Gillespie also was among the players singled out by starting linebacker L.A. Goree last week. In particular, Goree said he has been surprised by the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Gillespie’s speed.
“He’s doing a good job,” Edsall said of Gillespie. “He’s out there competing and doing a good job. [He’s] just another one of those freshman who’s out here learning each and every day and taking all in and trying to get better.”
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