Our summer profile series is back and we’re previewing Maryland football one position group at a time. We’ll be spending our first week with potentially the most impactful position on this year’s team, the wide receivers.
Lila provided an overview on the position on Tuesday. Now, we’ll begin our receivers breakdown by looking at how Jeshaun Jones figures to fit into head coach Mike Locksley’s offense in 2020.
Jeshaun Jones, WR, No. 6
Year: Redshirt Sophomore
Hometown: Fort Myers, Fla.
High school: South Fort Myers
2019 Stats: N/A (injured)
Career Stats: 22 rec, 288 yds, 5 TDs; 18 rush, 173 yards, 2 TDs; 1-for-1 passing, 20 yds, TD
Joining the Terps as a three-star recruit in the class of 2018 out of South Fort Myers High School, Jones appeared to be far from the most talented receiver on the roster, let alone his own recruiting class.
But Jones immediately set himself apart as one of the team’s most dynamic playmakers, scoring a receiving touchdown, a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown on each of his first three offensive touches in his debut against No. 23 Texas.
Interim head coach Matt Canada’s offense relied heavily on the run in 2018, statistically limiting Jones to a modest 22 receptions for 288 receiving yards. Jones proved to be the Terps’ top red-zone threat though, tying Stefon Diggs’ freshman touchdown mark with five.
Jones had his potential breakout season wiped out to injury
With the departure of the team’s leading receiver from the year prior in Taivon Jacobs to graduation, Jones was pegged as one of the favorites to lead the position group in 2019. But an ACL tear in the preseason sidelined Jones for the season, leaving Maryland’s receiving room without arguably its best player.
Maryland’s passing game struggled subsequently in Jones’ absence, with transfer quarterback Josh Jackson and junior Tyrrell Pigrome failing to consistently deliver the ball to the rather inexperienced weapons at their disposal.
Though Dontay Demus Jr. emerged as a viable receiving target, the Terps finished in the bottom three in the Big Ten in passing offense under Locksley in 2019.
Jones has an opportunity to play a major role in 2020
Despite being a holdover from a previous regime that has yet to play a snap under Locksley, Jones’ freshman year production should not be lost on the team’s second-year head coach. Outside of Demus Jr., no other Terp receiver recorded more than a touchdown in 2019, making the case for a playmaker like Jones to start immediately on the outside fairly reasonable. And before tearing his ACL last August, Jones was on the first team in practice.
One aspect of Jones’ game that will be interesting to see if Locksley makes use of is his ability as a runner. Canada’s offensive scheme featured constant wide receiver motion from one end of the field to the backfield prior to the snap, with Jones rushing 15 times for 182 yards and two scores on such plays, good for 12.1 yards per carry.
Locksley’s scheme doesn’t feature nearly as much “wide receiver sweep”-type actions, but given Jones’ skillset, it could be something he integrates into the playbook to set the 6’2 redshirt sophomore apart.
Jones projects as a pretty solid lock for one of the starting two outside wide receiver spots for the 2020 season, with Demus Jr. likely starting on the opposite side. However, wideouts like five-star recruit Rakim Jarrett and juniors Brian Cobbs and Darryl Jones also figure to challenge for touches as well.
Ultimately, Locksley will have plenty of options at his disposal ahead of this season, with each of the team’s wide receivers deserving getting a shot to prove they deserve to be on the field. Whether Jones can maintain his freshman year form in 2020 should be interesting to see come September.