For most of the six-plus months after orally committing to play college football at Ohio State, Suitland senior Taivon Jacobs gave little public indication that his unofficial July pledge would not stand. Instead, the two-time All-Met wide receiver bypassed a scholarship offer from his self-proclaimed “dream school” on Wednesday to stay close to home at Maryland.
During a ceremony in the Forestville school’s library, Jacobs slipped on a white Terrapins hat to cheers from assembled friends and family. He left the black Ohio State cap sitting untouched on the red cloth-covered table, ultimately swayed by a variety of factors, notably the desire to be near his 13-month old daughter, Bailey.
“As reality started to set in two weeks before signing day, I started actually thinking about stuff and how it would work out for me, how my family could come see me,” said Jacobs, whose brother, Levern, is a rising sophomore wide receiver at Maryland. “At the end of the day, I had to make the best decision for me.”
With his announcement shortly after 10 a.m., Jacobs, rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, turned out to be the opening act on a banner National Signing Day on the local front for Maryland and Coach Randy Edsall. All three area recruits who began the day on the fence — Jacobs, Friendship Collegiate’s Yannick Ngakoue and Avalon’s Jacquille Veii — ended up faxing in pledges to join the Terps.
Maryland announced a 22-man signing class that was ranked No. 30 in the nation by Rivals.com and includes 10 local players, counting highly touted junior college transfer Deon Long, who was a second-team All-Met at Dunbar in 2008.
“To go three for three on signing day makes a big statement about what we’re doing here and the direction we’re heading,” said Edsall, who is 6-18 after his first two seasons in College Park.
Ngakoue, an All-Met linebacker, expressed a similar sentiment after picking Maryland in a packed gymnasium in the District. He decommitted from the Terps in September and took official visits to Florida State and South Carolina but ultimately wanted the chance to play regularly in front of his family.
“I wanted to ball for my city because Maryland has been the underdog for a long time,” Ngakoue said. “And I know if all my teammates stay and the next class stayed, 2014, 2013 and so on, we would have a national championship team.”
Veii, a defensive back/running back who gained notice for his elite speed, completed the Maryland sweep. In a ceremony at the tiny Gaithersburg private school, he signed his letter-of-intent and then donned a flat-brimmed hat bearing a picture of Maryland’s mascot, eliminating Iowa and late-surging Nebraska in the race for his services.
“Everything I need is here in Maryland,” Veii said. “It was a tough decision because I had a great time at Nebraska but in the end, I knew Maryland was the right place for me.”
Plenty of other talented local players finalized plans to play elsewhere next year with far less mystery surrounding their destinations. Stone Bridge defensive end Jonathan Allen, the All-Met Defensive Player of the Year, followed through on his oral commitment to reigning national champion Alabama. Quince Orchard’s Marcus Newby (Nebraska), Gonzaga’s Devin Butler (Notre Dame) and Hylton’s E.J. Levenberry (Florida State) and Briar Woods’s Matt Rolin (Florida) were among the other top locals who joined BCS programs.
Meantime, All-Met Offensive Player of the Year Kendall Fuller of Good Counsel made it official that he will follow in the footsteps of his three older brothers and play at Virginia Tech.
“Being able to sign with my teammates, who I consider brothers, and to go the same school as my actual brothers is a dream come true,” Fuller said.
Good Counsel held a ceremony in Olney that featured eight players, including All-Met running back Dorian O’Daniel (Clemson) and three recruits headed for Virginia: quarterback Brendan Marshall, wide receiver Andre Levrone and defensive back Kirk Garner. The trio joined Potomac All-Met lineman Donta Wilkins and Damascus All-Met wide receiver Zach Bradshaw as the local contingent bound for Charlottesville.