Jones clearly carries the speed to excel on the gridiron at the High school and collegiate level. The question remains however, as to which position. Ask the the junior two-sport star and it’s clear he holds a preference. “Wide receiver. I feel like my coaches have the plays to get me open and create an opportunity to make something happen.” The areas of Jones game in need of attention are expected and common among sprinters and he’s the first to point each out, “Footwork, route running, and turning short passes into big plays.” Much different running 100m straight ahead and unimpeded then it is to attempt a “Slant” only to have a DB chuck you off the line and an LB looking to drive his shoulders thru your chest as you cross to the middle to the middle of the field. Football is a game of quick cuts, frequent redirection, and concentration before/during contact, none of which apply to the typical 200m race. If Jones continues to grow and can reach 6’3 he may project to an outside WR position which should better free him up for down-field opportunities. If he’s maxed at 6’1, he’ll most likely remain on the inside and will need to work on shortening his stride and improving his quickness out of breaks.
Largely underutilized last season, Jones put up 12 Receptions for 243 yards and 4 TD’s, and Rushed for 72 yards and a TD on just 5 Attempts. The 5 TD’s were generated in just 17 touches and speaks to the dynamic play making ability the Redlands High staff is just now tapping into. Although Jones only started 5 games, his play caught the attention of multiple PAC-12 programs. Tough to fathom Jones landing offers from Washington State, Oregon State, Utah, and Nevada, and not catching significant playing time until midway through his junior season. Opposing defenses should expect a healthy dose of Mr. Jones come the ’12-’13 season. The untapped athleticism is scary. California’s top ranked Long Jumper (#4 nationally) there’s little on the track side Jones hasn’t dominated. My guess is the speed burner tunes up his technique, the Redlands High staff makes better use of his explosive talent, and opposing DB’s are left wondering who’s going to cover #16.
Once the word gets out as to what Jones brings to the field, opposing defenses will most assuredly focus more attention his way. This may also lead to more physical play off the line as DB’s look to keep #16 from hitting stride. Time will tell how Jones and his 173lb frame reacts to ramped up contact. Sprinters aren’t generally comfortable adding bulk, so this may serve as a crossroads of sorts for the soon to be senior Wide Receiver. 10-15lbs in muscle is all but a must if Jones is going to take his game over the middle and grow beyond the “Fly” and “Go” target. At this point the PAC-12 offers have come based on projected upside as opposed to documented production. There’s a significant jump in skill set from those of the occasional deep threat and those of a reliable D1 caliber #1 or #2 Wide Receiver. Based on last season’s small sampling it appears Jones has a nose for the end zone and a penchant for the big play. Walter Jones has shown glimpses of next level talent, but questions remain as to his ability to withstand the added heat DB’s and Defensive coordinators are likely to dish out. The ’12-’13 season should determine whether Jones is just another sprinter looking for a little gridiron glory, or a legit D1 caliber play-maker whom just happens to possess near world class speed and crazy hops. High level athleticism and internal drive generally produce exceptional results. Walter Jones possesses both…..results to follow?