COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Not many players can say they’ve had their college football career come full circle quite like Terps fifth-year senior wide receiver Jacquille Veii.
“Unique is definitely a good word for it,” Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin said when asked about Veii’s situation.
Veii, a former Randy Edsall recruit out of Gaithersburg (Md.) The Avalon School who pledged to Maryland’s 2013 class, played in 24 games across two seasons in College Park and was platooned by Edsall between wide receiver and running back.
Eventually, Edsall tried to steer Veii more in the direction of being a tailback, but the 5-foot-9, 185-pound athlete had already become enamored with being a wideout and decided to pursue more of any opportunity to do so by transferring to nearby Towson University before his junior season.
But after leading the Tigers in receiving in 2015 with 44 receptions and 505 yards and seeing the Terps undergo a coaching staff overhaul since his departure, Veii decided to pull the rare move of transferring back to the school he had just left the year prior. And this time, he was coming to College Park with the intentions to solidify himself as a wideout.
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“I just fell in love with the position,” Veii said. “I love to prepare. I love the preparation, so I just fell in love with the preparation to play wide receiver and that’s really why I wanted to stick with the position. If I had stayed, I would have been playing running back and that wasn’t really something that I wanted to do. So I just decided to take my chance and work my butt off at my craft at Towson at receiver and see what happens.”
And Veii did just that.
Last January, Veii earned his Maryland scholarship back after impressing the Terps coaches during walk-on tryouts on campus, and after sitting out all of 2016 because of NCAA transfer regulations, he’s ready to finally have a breakout season in College Park.
“Anytime you come from not playing for a whole year, it’s like you’re a shark that smells blood in the water,” Veii said. “You want to eat. So I’m hungry and that’s what I want to do. I want to eat.”
Veii has continued to catch the attention of Terps coaches throughout the offseason with his work ethic and athleticism, which has Durkin excited about deploying the senior next season.
“Jacquille we have high expectations for,” Durkin said. “If you look at practices from last year, he stood out. He was a guy who certainly could have helped us a bunch last year. Obviously he had to sit out because of transferring, but he’s really fast. He has dynamic speed. He’s competitive. He works hard. He’s all the things you want and there’s a number of positions he could help us at. We’ll continue to sort through that and work him in different spots in spring ball and fall camp. But he’ll definitely be a guy that’s playing and helping us.”
Although Durkin hinted at possibly moving Veii around the field at times, Veii said he has been primarily been working as a wide receiver so far this spring. Getting to hone in on one position over the past few years has been beneficial to Veii’s preparation and also allows him to seek some help from a talented friend and mentor, former Terps wideout and now Minnesota Vikings pass catcher, Stefon Diggs.
“It just gives me stability and consistency, especially in my workouts and what I have to work on instead of having to split time at workouts, having to do running back workouts and then flip and do wide receiver workouts because I didn’t know what I was going to be doing,” Veii said. “So it’s kind of tough mentally. The body position that you play at receiver and running back are two different movements, so I literally had to change how I trained my body and my movements and stuff.
“But I had a great coach and great teacher in Stef [Diggs] off the field. He’s been my mentor ever since then. He’s been helping me out and just getting me better. Every time he’s back from Minnesota, we’re just always working out. He just shows me the work ethic that I’ve got to have and he tells me to be a pro now so that if I get blessed with the opportunity to get there it’s easier and I already know what to expect and how to handle myself.”
Thinking and working like a pro is what helped Veii earn his scholarship from Maryland back and has him staying humble and motivated throughout his entire “unique” process.
“I didn’t come in here thinking I was going to get put on scholarship right away and not have to sit out,” Veiis said. “I knew everything that was going to happen, so it was just about me preparing myself mentally to do that.
“As a competitor, you always have to prove yourself because if you don’t think you have to prove yourself then you become complacent and that’s when the competition gets a one-up on you. You always have to be evolving and adding stuff to your game and working hard and proving yourself every time you come out here."