A phone call from Tom Brattan wasn’t entirely unexpected. After all, Tad Shields expected his star defensive back, Jacquille Veii, to impress the Maryland assistant during the Terps’ summer football camp last week.
But what Brattan told Shields about Veii came as a surprise to the head football coach at The Avalon School in Gaithersburg.
“I said, ‘By the way, Coach, what did he run his 40 in?’” Shields recalled. “[Brattan said], ‘Well, let’s just say it was really fast.’ I said, ‘Oh, come on. You can tell me.’ He told me. It was around a 4.3. That blew me away. I didn’t know he had that kind of speed. 4.3 is pretty rare. I think when [the Maryland coaches] saw that, it was pretty easy for them to make up their mind about the offer.”
Veii, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound athlete, quickly accepted Maryland’s scholarship, becoming the Terps’ 10th local commitment of the 2013 class. Veii picked Maryland over offers from Boston College, Iowa, Ohio University and Old Dominion, among others.
Veii came to Shields’ program two years ago after starting his high school career at Richard Montgomery High in Rockville. At Avalon, an all-boys Catholic high school with just 90-some students, Veii stood out right away.
“You could always tell he was a ballplayer. Good athlete, a little bit unpolished, but had all the tools,” Shields said. “We haven’t had any DI athletes up until this point. He’s our first scholarship athlete.”
Avalon started drawing the attention of college recruiters thanks in part to the presence Rachid Ibrahim, a two-star running back prospect with offers from Boston College, East Carolina, Iowa and Ohio. Ibrahim lived up to his hype, while Veii probably exceeded the expectations placed upon him.
Although Avalon went 10-1 last season and Veii had a standout year, many college programs – Maryland included – wanted him to come to camp before a scholarship was offered. Shields was confident that Veii would fare well in College Park.
“Coach Brattan, when we talked about Jacquille going to work out, he said, ‘Just because he comes in doesn’t mean he automatically gets an offer. He’s got to do well,’” Shields recalled. “And then I get a call from Coach Brattan … and he says, ‘Coach, Jacquille was out there working out for us today [and] he killed it. We want to make an offer.’”
Veii’s speed wasn’t the only factor that apparently stood out to the Maryland coaching staff. Shields said the future Terp possesses the size and athleticism that the Maryland staff covets.
“He’s 5-11 and obviously has great ball skills and speed, [he’s] not afraid of contact, [he’s] a hard hitter and the other thing is he is a really good kid,” Shields said. “He gets good grades, works hard in school. He’s not just a great athlete, but he works hard [and has a] good work ethic as far as getting in shape. I think that’s how he got his 40 time down and was able to shave a couple tenths off.”
Shields isn’t 100 percent clear on Maryland’s plans for Veii, but the specifics aren’t important right now. All that matters to the Avalon coach is that his player continues to do the same things he’s done for the past two years.
“I think he’s a kid with all the tools,” Shields said. “I don’t have any doubt that he’s going to be able to adapt to the things they want to do.”