When he ran the scout team in practices as a sophomore quarterback, Westlake's Buck Smith had only one reason to get scared. No, it wasn't the wrath of his coaches.

Smith would see one of his classmates -- defensive tackle Derrell Jones -- rushing toward him, and he would just freak out.

"He's ferocious. He just doesn't quit, keeps going after you, swatting hands away," Smith said. "I'm saying to myself, 'This guy's going to kill me if I don't get rid of it.' "

When Smith imagines playing against Jones in a game, he just shakes his head.

Jones may be the most physical force in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference this season. He managed 61 tackles last season.

It is not easy to get your hands around a 6-foot-3, 299-pounder with terrific speed for someone his size. Ten Division I colleges have tried to do so, but Jones has narrowed his choices to Pittsburgh and Syracuse. He has no timetable for making his decision.

Although SMAC quarterbacks have seen enough of Jones up close, the feeling is not mutual. Jones heaps the blame on himself for Westlake's last-minute loss to Lackey in the Maryland 3A South final last year because the Wolverines' pass rush was not strong enough.

"That's what we lost on," Jones said. "I watched the game tape, and we lost on penetration. I was too busy with my guy and not going after" the quarterback.

Jones is used to having his sights set high; early in his career, his combination of size and speed drew comparisons to former Wolverine Randy Starks, who was recently drafted by the Tennessee Titans, after a standout career at Maryland.

Joining Jones on a defensive front that could be the SMAC's best are 270-pound senior Jerrell Edelin at the other tackle, with senior ends Chris Lyle (265 pounds) and James Chavis (225 pounds) flanking them.

"We've got strength and size," Jones said. "We just need that button to push us to the next level. It's knowing that nobody can stop you, and you're a force wherever you go."

Derrell Jones is part of a defensive front at Westlake that could be the SMAC's best.