In rematch with former team, Maryland's Veii finds extra motivation against Towson

When Towson declined his request to transfer back to Maryland in the spring of 2016, Jacquille Veii didn't understand. It was not until he took a look at the 2017 schedule that he understood what the fuss was about.

At the time, the 5-foot-9, 188-pound wide receiver was finishing his junior year at Towson, where he had been the team's top receiver after playing his first two seasons for the Terps.


"When I was going through the process, at first I didn't know [about the game]," Veii recalled Wednesday. "Once I realized they were blocking my transfer, I was like, 'Why would they block my transfer to Maryland?'

"And then I saw that Maryland plays Towson in 2017."


The decision by Towson not to give Veii his release forced him and his family to pay two semesters worth of room, board and tuition at Maryland before he was able to be put back on scholarship last fall.

"It wasn't a smooth transition like I thought it was going to go. I let them know regardless of whether you're going to withhold my transfer or not, I'm going to still attend Maryland," said Veii, who expects to graduate in December.

Which is why Veii, now a redshirt senior at Maryland, should be a little fired up Saturday, when the Terps host the Tigers for the first time since 2011 at Maryland Stadium.

Asked whether there is a little more motivation going into the home opener, Veii said: "It's just another game to me, but, yeah, I do feel like it is. At the same time, it's just another game on the schedule."

Veii still has several friends on Towson, including cornerbacks Lyrics Klugh and Tyron McDade, as well as running back Shane Simpson. His relationship with Tigers coach Rob Ambrose appears to have suffered a bit by his decision to return to Maryland.

"I still stay in contact with them, talk to them, see how they're doing, see how the program is going," Veii said. "It's going to be a fun competition with my old teammates."

For his part, Ambrose is not making too much about his team facing Veii, who in his only season with the Football Championshjp Subdivision school led the Tigers with 44 catches for 505 yards.

"Another guy on another team," Ambrose said Monday on the Colonial Athletic Association's coaches teleconference. "I know him. He's a hell of a player. I know that he worked very hard for us when he was here.


"I expect good things from him when he faces us. He was a good football player when he was at Maryland the first time, he was a good football player when he was here, and he's a good football player at Maryland again."

Asked whether he understood Veii's decision to return to Maryland after Randy Edsall was fired, Ambrose declined to comment. Veii said neither Ambrose nor anyone on his staff told him why his release to Maryland was not granted.

"They never really said anything," Veii said. "I was under the impression it was because Maryland plays Towson in 2017 and I was going to be on that team. I feel like they would have released me if we weren't playing."

Veii concedes that he was "a little nervous" last Saturday at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Stadium for his first game in nearly two years. Veii caught one pass for 3 yards in Maryland's 51-41 upset of the then-No. 23 Longhorns.

"It was like, 'Wow, I'm back on the field again,' " Veii said. "Once everything got rolling and I got a few of my couple of hits in, everything was just how I remembered it."

Veii is a different type of player now than he was in his first stint with the Terps.


As a sophomore in 2014 playing behind Stefon Diggs, Deon Long and Marcus Leak, Veii caught 16 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown, including a 60-yard pass against Ohio State.. He also rushed 19 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

While he is still in the shadows — specifically of junior wide receiver D.J. Moore and senior Taivon Jacobs — Veii seems to understand that his role on offense consists of more than just catching passes.

Veii takes pride in having offensive coordinator Walt Bell and some of the other coaches call the receivers "the little O-linemen" for their ability to block on the edge.

"I feel like I've grown a lot in the receiver position and just football-wise," Veii said. "I didn't know what I know now back then. I just had the mentality, football is football, you just go out there and play. I never understood the technical aspect of it and the meticulous planning that goes into it each week. Definitely I've learned a lot and came a long way since then."

Bell has witnessed that growth, which has come with the help of wide receivers coach Chris Beatty.

"Coach Beatty has done an incredible job with him," Bell said Wednesday. "All through last year, when he first came back, he was really kind of just a great athlete, kind of like a slot-running back. You saw the skills and the great foot quickness, but now he's really refined his craft and playing the position."


Above all, Bell has seen a tremendous work ethic.

"Regardless of the phase of the game, whether it's special teams or receiver, he is one of the hardest-playing dudes I've ever been around in my life," Bell said. "Every week we'll show the offense five or six great effort plays … and he and [running back] Lorenzo Harrison show up on that tape every week. He's the guy you want on your team, and if he's not on your team, you hate him."

What hasn't changed is how Veii feels deep inside, going back to his high school days.

"I'm always hungry," Veii said. "I was hungry when I went to Towson. I was hungry when I came in as a freshman and this is my last year. Definitely I'm hungry to showcase my abilities, showcase what I've been working on for the past two years. Definitely I'm hungry to show what I can do."