When last seen in a bowl game, Darryl Jones was hauling in touchdowns grabs of 70 and 32 yards.
That was for Maryland, in the 2021 Pinstripe Bowl.
A year later, he’ll do his best to help N.C State beat Maryland in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl..
Welcome to college football, where things can change quickly, yearly.
Jones said last week that he had an inkling late this season that the bowl matchup might happen. The wide receiver stayed in touch with some of his former Maryland teammates, and the speculation began that the former ACC rivals may hook up in an ACC-vs-Big Ten bowl.
“It’s weird,” Jones said. “It’s like I just left, and they’re right back and we’re playing them.
“About week eight, I have a friend there and we had about the same record as Maryland and it was like, ‘Dang, it’d be crazy if we played each other.’ A few weeks down, we were back talking and it was like, ‘We are playing y’all.’ … It’s like funny to us. It’s just cool to go out and play each other.”
Jones transferred to N.C. State after the 2021 season, joining an assistant coach, Joker Phillips, who also left Maryland to join the Wolfpack program as wide receivers coach. Theirs is a tight bond, Jones said.
“He’s like a long-lost uncle or grandpa to me,” Jones, smiling. ”He’s real. He’ll go the extra mile to have my back.”
Jones came to the Pack as a graduate student after playing 42 games for the Terrapins. A former four-star recruit out of Princess Anne High in Virginia Beach, he entered the Pinstripe Bowl in New York with 45 career catches but without a touchdown catch in four years.
But the bowl game was one to remember. Jones had four catches for 111 yards, with 102 yards coming on the two TD grabs as the Terps routed Virginia Tech 54-10 at Yankee Stadium.
Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was named the Pinstripe MVP after a 20-for-24, 265-yard passing day. The younger brother of Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, he was named second-team All-Big Ten this season as the Terrapins finished 7-5 and played competitive — if losing — games against Michigan and Ohio State.
Running back Roman Hemby, a redshirt freshman, had 924 yards rushing, scoring 10 touchdowns, and is a threat out of the backfield with 31 catches. Senior receivers Jeshaun Jones and junior Rakim Jarrett each caught 40 balls to tie for the team lead.
“They’ve got length and they’ve got speed and and they’ve got a quarterback,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “When you’ve got that, you’ve got a chance to be dangerous.”
Jones, a possession-type receiver, finished third in receptions for the Pack this season with 27, his longest catch for 18 yards. He scored N.C. State’s only touchdown in the 19-17 win over Florida State — also quarterback Devin Leary’s last TD pass for the Pack — and then had two touchdown catches against Wake Forest in the Pack’s 30-21 victory over the Demon Deacons at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The Wolfpack coaches might tap into Jones’ inside knowledge of the Terps leading up to the bowl game Friday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. No one knows a player’s strengths and weaknesses quite like a teammate — or in Jones’ case, a former teammate, one year removed.
“But there’s no information that I can give them that can make or break the game,” Jones said, smiling. “There’s nothing I can tell them that would make a drastic change.”