|« International players add to Southeast Missouri State team's roster depth||Thomas steps up as Villanova quarterback »|
South Alabama's Jereme Jones small in stature, big on the field
South Alabama has a big offensive weapon wrapped in the 5-foot-8, 160-pound frame of wide receiver-kick returner Jereme’ Jones.
While the height and weight listed for him on the Jaguars’ roster may be exaggerated a bit, the expectations and offensive punch he is capable of providing are not.
The former McGill-Toolen standout played in all 10 of the Jags’ games last season, including a start against Edward Waters.
He ranked third on the team in receptions with 15 for 142 yards and two touchdowns and was the team’s leading punt returner with 11 for 213 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 19.4 yards per return. He also returned three kickoffs for 44 yards and had one carry for 34 yards, giving him 433 all-purpose yards, fourth on the Jags’ roster.
His college debut was a good one. He returned a punt 54 yards against Pikeville College for a fourth-quarter touchdown. Not bad for a true freshman.
With four more years of eligibility remaining thanks to South Alabama’s non-classified status its first two seasons, Jones is expected to produce more big plays in the future.
“The one thing that stands out, probably from his high school career and here at South, is that Jereme’ is competitive,” wide receivers coach Ron Antonie said. “There’s no doubt about that. He wants to go out there and win every drill, all the time, and he wants the ball. That’s what you want from a wide receiver – you want people who want the ball and, if they don’t get it, they’re upset about it.”
“That’s the way he is. He’s one of those guys, he wants the ball. He’s competitive. That’s what makes him a good football player for us besides his obvious football skills - fast, quick, all those things.”
His quickness, speed and agility have made Jones a natural as a kick and punt returner as well. A year in South Alabama’s system and in the college game has only helped honed those attributes and his confidence.
“I feel real comfortable,” Jones said. “I feel 100 percent better than I did last year. Last year, I didn’t know everything I was supposed to at the time and I was kind of thrown into the fire. Now, I know what I’m supposed to do and what to look forward to and what to expect from the defense. … I can play way faster.”
At McGill, Jones was a four-year lettermen and part of the winningest senior class in the school’s long history. Jones had 61 receptions for 950 yards as a senior and added another 200 rushing yards. His father, Ricky Jones, was a quarterback at Alabama State from 1988-91 and helped lead the Hornets to a conference crown his final season.
The son is making a name for himself, not just as a smaller player who makes big plays, but as an overall talent.
“There have been great players throughout the years that have been undersized guys that will get out there and fight no matter how big you are,” Antoine said. “He’s one of those guys. I’m sure coach (Joey) Jones was one of those guys when he was playing, a little guy that will go out there and get after you and fight you and make plays like a big guy out there on the field.”
Antoine says JeremeÃ Jones competitive spirit offsets anything he lacks in size. He also said Jones is likely the team’s strongest receiver.
Jones said his improvement is based on the comfort zone he has reached and he believes that can get better and better as he continues his career. He said there is confidence throughout the receiver corps. Although No. 1 receiver Courtney Smith is gone, Jones said there is still plenty of talent at the position.
“I like the fact that we can spread the ball around more because we have a great group of receivers,” he said. “It’s not just like one, it’s the whole group and we each do some things better than the other, so we just combine those to make everything look like it’s supposed to be. There’s not one individual player the defense can double-up.”
PRACTICE REPORT: On the heels of the team’s first scrimmage Saturday, the South Alabama football team was on the practice field Monday after Sunday’s day off.Offensively, the Jaguars stepped things up again, perhaps with a carry-over from Saturday’s scrimmage at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. In third-and-long situations, the first-team offense, directed by quarterback C.J. Bennett, picked up the first down on all six of its tries.
The offense and defense had good moments Monday during the two-hour session.
“Our legs came back a little,” coach Joey Jones said. “I still think we’re a little tired from camp, but I thought they fought through it, and we had a good practice.”
The Jags return to the practice field today at 6:15 a.m.
INJURY UPDATE: The Jags have been hit by the injury bug as of late. A few players picked up some minor injuries during Saturday’s scrimmage.
Defensive back Gabe Loper wore a neck brace at Monday’s practice after suffering a cervical strain and is out for at least a week. Running back Santuan McGee suffered a left AC strain and also will be out at least a week. Defensive back Ken Barefield, wearing a protective boot, suffered a sprained ankle. His status will be accessed daily.
During Monday’s practice, freshman receiver Anthony Ingram suffered an AC strain of his left shoulder. He will likely miss at least a week of practice.
SCHEDULE CHANGE: Jones said the Jags will take part in their second scrimmage Friday instead of Saturday as originally planned. The scrimmage will take place at the Jags’ practice fields.
He said this week is important in shaping the team’s depth chart.
“This is basically the last week they’ll have a chance (to move up the depth chart), not that they won’t have a chance ever, but the bottom line is we’re looking at them hard this week and making our decisions as to what to go into game week with,” Jones said.
By Tommy Hicks, Press-Register