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Ohio State transfer Keandre Jones receives NCAA waiver to play this season at Maryland

Ohio State transfer Keandre Jones receives NCAA waiver to play this season at Maryland
Then-Ohio State linebacker KeAndre Jones is pictured in a game against Tulane on Sept. 22, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. The Ohio State transfer has received a waiver from the NCAA to play this season at Maryland. (Jay LaPrete / AP)

Linebacker Keandre Jones came to Maryland in late January after playing his first three seasons at Ohio State, with hopes of being granted a waiver from the NCAA to play for the Terps this season rather than sit out the requisite year for transfers.

On the eve of Maryland’s first practice Friday afternoon, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker received the waiver. He learned he had gained his eligibility when first-year coach Mike Locksley announced it to those assembled for media day at Gossett Team House.

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“I’m excited and ready to go,” said Jones, who was a four-star prospect coming out of Good Counsel, in Olney. “I came in here expecting to come in here and work, let everything play out for itself.”

Jones, who played in a backup role and on special teams with the Buckeyes, will likely wind up starting at one of two outside linebacker positions, with graduate transfer Shaq Smith, who played his first two seasons at Clemson, manning the other side.

“You look at a guy like Shaq, who comes from a winning pedigree, much like Keandre Jones,” Locksley said.

The two linebackers join several other transfers who’ll play immediately this season for the Terps, including quarterback Josh Jackson and wide receiver Sean Savoy, both of whom played two seasons at Virginia Tech, and tight end Tyler Mabry, who played three years at Buffalo. Savoy has been moved to wide receiver after playing at cornerback in the spring.

“The thing that’s been really impressive to me is the off-the-field things they bring to the table, from a maturity standpoint," Locksley said. "The habits and behaviors that we talk about, they understand [because] all four of those guys come from programs where they’ve had some success. They’ve been great additions to our program from a leadership standpoint.

“These aren’t guys who’ve come in and said, ‘Hey, I played and won a national championship as much as, ‘Hey, these are the things that we have done and where I’ve been, these are the habits and behaviors we’ve had to win and be successful.’ Those were four really big pieces to add and I think all those guys will help us tremendously as we try to move the program forward.”

Defensive coordinator Jon Hoke said Jones will be a good addition to a position group that lost All-Big Ten linebacker Tre Watson, who played as a graduate transfer last season after three years at Illinois. In 15 games on defense in his three seasons at Ohio State, Jones made 29 tackles, including one sack.

“He’s an instinctive player, he’s been around a lot of football, played a lot of football,” Hoke said. “He’s got good athleticism. He’s very good at the point of attack. He’s shown the ability to rush the passer. He brings a lot for us. We’re excited that he’s here.”

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