Potomac (Md.) senior defensive end Jerome Dews has had a whirlwind of a year. First, he made a major impression on the University of Tennessee coaches when he attended a Volunteers’ camp in June. Four days later, he accepted a scholarship offer from the Vols.
The 6-3, 200-pounder has led his Potomac team to a 4-4 record (4-2 in Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A) though the team’s two conference losses have come by a combined eight points to undefeated Gwynn Park (8-0) and fellow 2A power Douglass (6-2). The Wolverines have seen the emergence of running back Kesean Strong, who’s taken the county by storm and rushed for over 200 yards in each of the past four games.
Dews shared the story of that amazing performance at Volunteers’ camp, his recruiting process since, some insight on Kesean Strong, and what’s left for the Wolverines this season.
Recruiting Insider: Why did you choose Tennessee and what’s your experience been like since you committed?
Jerome Dews: I love Tennessee. I love everything about it. They treat me well, but like my stepdad tells me, I’m still going to take my visits to other places. You have to experience stuff. I haven’t experienced anything. So I have that offer from Purdue, I’m going to take a visit there. I’m just going to experience all the options that I’ve got. Take my visit to JMU.
[I went] in late August. It was beautiful, the coaches were great. The coaches told us how hard it was going to be on me. They were like: “Recruiting is going to be good, but when you’re here all that goes out the window.” They just kept it real, and were telling us how they were going to try to make a difference at Tennessee and bring the real Tennessee back.
Then we talked about my positions: they don’t know if they want to put me at receiver, if they want to put me a linebacker, if they want to bulk me up and just let me rush off the edge. That’s maybe what I do best. So, it’s a lot. Whatever they do with me, I’m determined to be successful at.
But everything is Tennessee right now, and that’s what I’ve been telling other coaches. I love my school. They took a chance on me.
RI: What’s the story behind that offer?
JD: When I say they knew nothing about me when I went down to that camp, they knew nothing. But I showed on every drill. When we did one-on-ones, I went on defense first and had six interceptions. Coach Butch Jones, the head coach, told me to go on offense. All throughout offense I’m catching fades and all that, and no one could really check me. So the last play, they put the best receiver against the best cornerback. The cornerback I was going against, he ran a 4.3. He was the fastest person at the Tennessee camp. I ran a back-shoulder fade and he’s so fast he came underneath it and intercepted it. But as he intercepted it, I took the ball and snatched it from him. I tossed the ball back to him and started talking trash.
Coach Jones, he ran to me, he was like “Mr. Dews, you better not leave this camp without talking to me!” He was like, you’re 99 percent getting a scholarship, they talked to me in the office after camp, and then I think about four days later they offered me. Best time of my life.
RI: Since that offer, you’ve really seen the interest reach another level. Did you ever expect to get this kind of interest?
JD: I dreamed of D-I offers, but my recruiting was real late. I played JV 10th and ninth grade, so my recruiting was a little bit late. So then it was a dream. But now, coaches be calling me, ‘this and that.’ But all the stuff they’re saying, they weren’t saying any of it before I had my Tennessee offer. Now they want to come back in the mix. But I know how recruiting is, it’s a game.
RI: How do you feel about your team’s season so far?
JD: “We could’ve started the season better, but as I can see now, ever since the Gwynn Park game [an 18-12 loss], we’ve been coming closer and closer and closer. In that game, we lost in the last 35 seconds. In the Douglass game, we lost in two overtimes [34-32]. We could’ve kicked some field goals and we would’ve won. After that, we’ve been in some easier games — we beat Fairmont Heights [0-8], we’ve got Crossland [1-7] this week, and then we’ve got a good matchup against Forestville [6-2]. I won’t say that will be easy. That’s homecoming, so that will be personal.
What we’ve been working on is finishing. Everything’s finishing, finishing, finishing. One thing I can say is we fought to the last minute of [those losses]. Little things like turning the ball over at the 10-yard line against Gwynn Park, not kicking against Douglass, so we come out losing. But we fought to the end, and they both respected us after the game.
RI: What do you think of the season Kesean Strong’s been having?
JD: He’s amazing. AMAZING. He can do everything. Mark my words, everything. Everything with an exclamation point. He runs a 4.4 . You see that 4.4 in practice. You see it in the game. You see it on tape. He’s amazing. Every time I talk to him. He’s got a lot of schools talking to him, but I’m like forget all that man. Volnation! Tennessee.
RI: You guys are still alive for a playoff spot, but you’ll need some help from other teams to get there. What are your goals for your last two games?
JD: Our minimum for these last two games is 50 [points]. So 100 points in the last two games. We just want to make a statement going out. If we don’t reach the playoffs, it’s going to hurt, but at least we did go out with a bang. So we just want to play as hard as we can these last two games.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 18
The number of accumulated points by which Potomac (30) trails Hammond High School (48) for the final playoff spot in Maryland’s 2A South region. The Wolverines sit behind Friendly (31) and Southern (43), who are also chasing that fourth spot.
– Chantilly senior Juhee Bae capped the Chargers’ perfect golf postseason by capturing the Virginia girls’ state title in a playoff
– Jeremy Yeager’s stellar play in goal helped Wootton top Clarksburg, 1-0, to advance in the Maryland 4A West boys’ soccer playoffs
– Broadneck avenged a regular season defeat by out-lasting South River in the Anne Arundel County volleyball title game
– In Dews’s Prince George’s County, injuries are starting to impact the battle for playoff position
– Here’s a look at Virginia’s week eight high school football standings
– O’Connell junior standout Leroy Butts has left the Arlington school to join budding Clinton Christian
VIDEO OF THE DAY:
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY:
Field Hockey: No. 7 Broadneck and No. 8 Severna Park matchup in the 4A East region final at Severna Park at 6 p.m.
Girls’ Soccer: Bullis travels to Sidwell Friends, Georgetown Visitation takes on Georgetown Day, Maret plays at Flint Hill and the Potomac School heads to National Cathedral for ISL semifinals today at 3:30 p.m.