The University of Maine Black Bears home opener against Colgate at Alfond Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Three Maine natives are among the 11 players joining the University of Maine football team next season, the program announced this week.

Defensive lineman/tight end Jaxon Gross will join his brother David in UMaine’s football program. Jaxon Gross, who is from Orland, played for Brewer High School this past season after transferring from Bucksport, where his brother played.

Hermon offensive lineman Jaykob Dow and Kennebunk quarterback Keegan Andrews were the other Maine natives in the group.

They will join a 17-member class that was announced in December.

UMaine has since added another player in Rutgers transfer Damon Matthew, a defensive back who played in seven games for the Scarlet Knights this past fall after spending two years at Arizona State.

The other members of the group are defensive backs Sheaquan Walters from Nyack, New York; Devin Vaught from Charlotte, North Carolina; and Amari Mack from Jeannette, Pennsylvania. They will join linebackers B.J. Mayes from Aurora, Illinois; offensive linemen Pius Ejindu of Lynn, Massachusetts; and Jack Lillie from Boulder, Colorado. Lastly, the newest members include defensive linemen Kyle Pressley from Hammonton, New Jersey, and Ta’kai Chisolm from Edison, New Jersey.

“I’m really happy with this group,” said UMaine head coach Jordan Stevens. “We put in a lot of time and work over the last 10 months to get to this spot. The coaches, support staff and faculty did a great job when we had the players on campus.”  

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Gross fought through injuries to have a solid season for the Witches, where he played a variety of positions on both sides of the ball.

He was the 2022 Class B wrestling state champion in the 220-pound weight class.

Stevens said Gross is a physical and skillful player.

“Jaxon already has good size so we’re going to continue to work with him to improve his strength and flexibility and find him a home where he can be an aggressive player,” Stevens said. “Any time you can bring in a brother of a current player, it’s a great situation for both guys to be able to perform and be comfortable being here.”

The 6-5, 255-pound Dow was a two-time all-conference player for Hermon and led the Hawks to regional championship games both seasons. He was also an all-conference basketball player a year ago.

“I’m really excited to have Jakob. He has a huge upside,” Stevens said. “With his height and length, he has a tackler’s body. He just needs time and resources to develop.”

The 6-0, 175-pound Andrews played for Bridgton Academy this past season.

“He has a strong arm, he’s mobile and he’s competitive,” Stevens said. “He has a good understanding of offensive schemes.”

Stevens said the three recruits in the secondary will give the team depth.

“They have length and they are willing to tackle,” Stevens said.

They are also strong in pass coverage.

Mayes, according to Stevens, will be able to come in and develop into a “true inside linebacker.”

He called Chisolm and Pressley “dynamic defenders up front.”

Chisolm could play on the line or as an outside linebacker while Pressley is going to be a defensive lineman, according to Stevens.

The 320-pound Ejindu and 275-pound Lillie are quality offensive linemen who have a lot of potential, Stevens said.

Ejindu is strong, versatile and passionate, according to the head coach, and Lillie is “just scratching the surface of what he is going to become as a leader and football player.”