Malik Jones discovered early in his high school career that playing football for Dunbar put “a target on your back.” The Poets, winners of three consecutive Class 1A state championships, have long been the preeminent Baltimore City football power.
Transitioning from one of the state’s top high school football programs to a Maryland squad that has won just six games over the past two seasons might seem like a drastic change. But despite the Terps’ recent struggles, Jones expects his new squad to be among the ACC’s most hunted programs this year.
“Going to the Big Ten, that’s going to draw a lot of attention for us,” Jones said. “They say we have a lot of talent that’s coming up. We could be a pretty good team in the future years. A lot of eyes [will be] watching us.”
Jones, who committed to the Terps last summer after a strong performance at a Maryland camp, said he’s looking forward to playing “Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State – schools like that.” He’s doing everything he can now to put himself in position to suit up for the Terps as quickly as possible.
The coaches “say that whatever I do determines my playing time and what they want to do with me,” he said. “If I go in and do what I’m supposed to do in the weight room and in practice, I should be able to see the field.”
Maryland hasn’t recruited a ton of players from Baltimore City public schools over the past several years, but Jones hopes that his commitment to the Terps will change things soon. Maryland has already offered Dunbar junior quarterback William Crest, and, according to Jones, has expressed interest in Poets junior running back Coleman Blackston.
“It’s a good thing because I feel as though Baltimore City has a lot of good talent, but we’re always overlooked,” Jones said. “Me being able to represent Baltimore City, that should be a good thing.”
Here’s an introduction to Jones:
Name: Malik Jones
Birthdate: Aug. 2, 1995
Position: Defensive end
High School: Dunbar
Senior statistics: 70 tackles, 18 sacks
Rankings: Rivals.com – Two-star prospect. Scout.com – Two-star prospect. ESPN.com – Two-star prospect, No. 41 player in Maryland, No. 153 offensive tackle, 68 rating. 247Sports.com – Three-star prospect, No. 22 player in Maryland, No. 54 offensive tackle, 86 rating.
Bench max: 280
40-yard dash: 4.8
Runner-up school: “I have no idea. I had other schools interested and a couple other offers. I would have gone to more camps. Whatever was the best fit for me at the time.”
Other schools considered: “At one point in time I had offers from UTEP and Rutgers. I was talking to schools like Wake Forest, Marshall and Temple.”
Favorite NFL player: Ray Lewis
Favorite NFL team: Dallas Cowboys
Favorite music: Jay-Z, Kanye West
Favorite movie: “The Hangover”
Favorite TV show: “SportsCenter” and “Martin”
Favorite food: “I eat everything. I don’t have a favorite food.”
Favorite high school class: Math
Other high school sports: “I played basketball my freshman year.”
Hobbies: “I like to go out, hang out, go to the movies. I like to play basketball for fun. That’s about it.”
Intended major: Business management
Something that not many people know about you: “I would say nothing. Unless somebody wants to know something, I would come out and tell them straightforward.”
Best football moment: “My 10th-grade year when I scored. It was a punt block return. At the time, [my teammate] blocked the punt and I scored from about 30 yards.”
Role model: “My dad. He’s a real inspiration. He’s always pushing me to succeed and is a very hard worker.”
Why Maryland? “I felt more at home with Maryland. I felt as though [I] not only had a great opportunity to play football, but I could better my education at Maryland, too.”