Before linebacker Keandre Jones ended up at Ohio State, he wanted to play at Maryland.

The school’s campus is about 20 miles from his hometown, and he liked Mike Locksley, then an assistant who was the Terrapins’ interim coach in late 2015. But Jones ultimately de-committed before signing day in 2016 and ended up with the Buckeyes after Locksley left to join Alabama’s coaching staff.

“It made me open up my options,” Jones told reporters this past spring.

 

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The return of Locksley had the reverse effect. A month after Locksley was hired as Maryland’s coach in December, Jones transferred, reuniting with one of the coaches who had recruited him at Our Lady Of Good Counsel, a football powerhouse.

Jones, who was a reserve for three seasons at Ohio State, has started at outside linebacker for the Terrapins and is their third-leading tackler — with 45 total, including 11 for loss — and has a team-high six sacks.

“It’s great to see him playing with a lot of passion, effort,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “Nothing but respect for he and his family. He had an opportunity to go closer to home. We supported that the best we could. Certainly didn't want to see him leave, but we also understand. Glad that things are working out for him.”

Locksley said this week that Jones has had a significant impact off the field as well within the program.

“The one thing he’s shown throughout his career is he’s really mature beyond his years,” Locksley said. “The leadership he’s brought to this program is a direct reflection of what he’s learned and what the experiences he’s had at a place like Ohio State. It’s been great to have that here in our locker room and for our younger players to utilize him as a resource for how to approach the game, how you approach practice, how you approach school, all the areas you need to.”

 

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman