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Seon Jones in a new role for Georgia Southern
Lights, camera, action. Take Two.
It’s a new scene for Georgia Southern’s Seon Jones — a flashy open-field running back now asked to bring his skills to the Eagles’ blue-collar fullback role.
At Buford High, Jones ran for 1,204 yards and 13 touchdowns sometimes as a tailback in the
I formation, sometimes as the lone back behind the quarterback.
His YouTube highlight video makes you think GSU recruited the next Walter Payton.
But bridging the gap from high school stardom to the college game is still in the opening credits for Jones, a freshman who red-shirted his first year and is hoping to start out backing up his high school teammate Dominique Swope.
“I’m on the ground in the three-point stance,” Jones said. “It’s new, and I’m still learning, but I’m getting better. I like it more, but it’s more physical. The hits are harder.”
The 5-foot-9, 196-pounder arrived in Statesboro auditioning for the slotback part in the Eagles’ offensive show. He had the needed speed for slotback, running an 11.39 in the 100-meter dash and a 22.60 in the 200 on Buford’s track team.
But GSU’s needs changed. The team is short on fullbacks after moving Robert Brown to slotback late last season. Zeke Rozier, who backed up Swope and Brown, completed his eligibility.
“(Jones) is kind of back in the position we anticipated,” GSU coach Jeff Monken said. “He came in as a (fullback), but we moved him to slot last fall because we were short of people.”
Jones showed promise as a slotback, but a technicality closed the curtains on his 2011 season.
He said he took an on-line English class at Buford High for extra credit. The NCAA clearinghouse took issue with the class, and Jones was allowed limited workouts with the team until the class cleared.
“It sat me out a good two weeks, and by the time (the class cleared), (GSU coaches) just said, ‘We’ll save you for next year, just get better,’ ” Jones said.
Actually, Eagle coaches didn’t want to see Jones waste a year at an overstocked position. Although GSU ended the 2010 season looking short-handed at slotback, a strong group returned to bolster the starting duo of J.J. Wilcox and Darreion Robinson.
Johnathan Bryant (broken leg) and Nico Hickey (broken collarbone) returned from 2010 injuries, and Jerick McKinnon, a backup quarterback in 2010, proved to be too athletic to keep on the sidelines.
McKinnon had 101 rushing yards as a slotback against Delaware in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals.
Jones, slightly behind because of the clearinghouse issue, wasn’t really needed.
“I took it personally, but then again I was in the weight room,” Jones said. “I worked hard, put weight on, and now I’m ready to show what I can do.”
Some of those skills were on display during GSU’s first scrimmage when he went on a 28-yard burst up the middle to set up Devon Scott’s 23-yard touchdown run.
Jones gave credit to his supporting cast.
“The line made a hole, and I just hit it,” he said.
Jones had a 35-yard run in Saturday’s scrimmage to set up McKinnon’s short run.
And as far as being an understudy to Swope, Jones doesn’t see any problems. They shared the ball at Buford High and won a Class AA state championship in 2010.
“I see us getting time together and doing what we do,” Jones said.
GSU’s defense played much better in Saturday’s second spring scrimmage after surrendering eight touchdowns in the first scrimmage. The defense forced numerous fumbles and had two safeties while allowing only three offensive TDs.
J.J. Wilcox returned the opening kickoff 70 yards for a TD, and quarterbacks Ezayi Youyoute and McKinnon each rushed for scores. Youyoute’s run was a 48-yarder. Former Savannah Christian star Russell DeMasi threw a 16-yard TD pass to DeVonte Lewis.
Slotback Brown did not play because of a back injury. Swope was held out of action because of a pulled hamstring, Monken said.
By Donald Heath, Savannah Morning News