Mary­land’s Veii is ready for his re­turn en­gage­ment

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS -

and his new/old team­mates.

It also re­quired fi­nan­cial help as well. Veii had to show Durkin he was will­ing to put in the work, which meant pay­ing his own way for the first se­mes­ter. Veii got some of the money from his aunt, An­gela Brath­waite, and the rest through a loan his father, Kazu­vire Veii, took out. The el­der Veii teaches psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Namibia in West Africa.

Veii re­al­ized how for­tu­nate he had been to have a schol­ar­ship.

“It def­i­nitely made me think about all that stuff,” Veii said. “My fam­ily doesn’t come from money and it was a strug­gle. It def­i­nitely made me think about what I had to do [to earn his schol­ar­ship].”

Durkin smiled when asked whether Veii’s sec­ond chance at Mary­land was unique.

“Unique is a def­i­nitely a good word for it,” Durkin said. “We have high ex­pec­ta­tions [for Veii]. You look at prac­tices last year, he stood out. He’s a guy who cer­tainly could have helped us a bunch last year, ob­vi­ously. Re­ally fast, dy­namic speed, com­pet­i­tive, works hard. He’s all the things you want.”

Veii also showed that in flashes his first two years. Af­ter play­ing more as a run­ning back his fresh­man year, pick­ing up 146 yards on 39 car­ries, Veii played more as a re­ceiver in 2014 as a backup to Ste­fon Diggs, fin­ish­ing with 16 catches for 230 yards. He also rushed 19 times for 105 yards and two touch­downs.

Hav­ing lost Lev­ern Ja­cobs and Teldrick Morgan, who as se­niors last sea­son were the team’s sec­ond- and third-lead­ing re­ceivers, re­spec­tively, the Terps are clearly in need of new tar­gets for who­ever winds up fol­low­ing Perry Hills at quar­ter­back.

Veii is com­pet­ing with Ja­cobs’ younger brother, Taivon, a se­nior who missed last sea­son with a knee in­jury, and sopho­more D.J. Turner. There will be more com­pe­ti­tion com­ing this sum­mer from a num­ber of fresh­men, in­clud­ing four-star prospects Tahj Cape­hart and Sean Nel­son.

Un­like when he was be­ing shut­tled back and forth be­tween run­ning back and wide re­ceiver, Veii knows that Durkin and Bell plan to use him strictly in the slot.

“It just gives me sta­bil­ity and con­sis­tency, es­pe­cially in my work­outs and what I’ve got to work on, in­stead of hav­ing [to] split time and hav­ing to do run­ning back work­outs and do­ing wide re­ceiver work­outs be­cause I didn’t know what I was go­ing to be do­ing,” Veii said.

Veii, who led Tow­son in re­ceiv­ing with 44 catches for 505 yards in 2015, hopes to get a chance to fol­low Diggs into the NFL some­day. But first he must make the best of his sec­ond chance with the Terps.

Like a long-dis­tance trav­eler at the end of a jour­ney, Veii is a bit fam­ished.

“Any­time you come from not play­ing for a whole year, it’s like you’re a shark smelling blood in the wa­ter. You want to eat,” Veii said. “I’m hun­gry and I want to eat.”

KARL MER­TON FER­RON/BALTIMORE SUN

Coach DJ Durkin has high hopes for slot re­ceiver Jac­quille Veii. “Re­ally fast, dy­namic speed, com­pet­i­tive, works hard. He’s all the things you want,” Durkin said.

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