February 6, 2013

Tough keeping up with this Jones

Michigan fans might have done a skeptical double-take when Da'Mario Jones decommitted from Central Michigan to join the ranks of committed Wolverines. It became apparent down the stretch, though, that Jones was no Mid-American Conference level catch.

In the days leading up to national signing day, representatives from Georgia, Florida State and UCLA all made their way to Westland John Glenn High School. All sought a late change of mind out of Jones, whom head coach Tim Hardin insists is a game changer.

John Glenn struggled on the football field the last couple of years, meaning the 6-2, 198-pound wideout didn't mix in with a loaded lineup. In fact, more often than not, Jones represented his team's best hope for moving the football.

That can put a target on a receiver's back, but Hardin noted it didn't seem to matter.

"Our goal was just to try to get him the ball, as many ways as possible," Hardin said. "We ended up a lot of time just throwing the ball up to him.

"It would amaze me. It didn't matter if one guy covered him, two guys covered him, three guys covered him, our quarterback threw the ball up to him, and he'd go up and get it and take it away from anybody who was covering him."

Although Jones measures 6-2, Hardin insists he plays more like 6-5, because of his lanky body type and ability to leap and go get the football in the air.

For his part, Jones figures if the ball is up for grabs, it's his.

"When it comes down to being a receiver, I feel like I'm not just one of those fast guys who can jump real high," Jones said. "I'm one of those physical guys. When a guy tries to man me up off the line, I love getting off the ball. I love getting away from their contact. That's fun to me.

"Once I've passed them, they won't catch me. When the ball is in the air, there's nothing else in the world like it. I just go up and grab it."

Jones acknowledged he expected to play football at one of the elite programs in the nation. Advised by his uncle to commit early to assure himself of some place to land, he went that route, but kept his eye on bigger schools.

Two in particular stood out - Tennessee and Michigan, not necessarily in that order. The two-program race didn't last long, though.

"Behind the woodwork, Michigan was saying they were doing their best to get me an offer, but they were unable to at the moment," Jones said. "They weren't sure they were going to be able to get me into the class. They said just keep working during the season, keep developing as a player, send highlight tapes and wait and see what happens.

"On Halloween, it came through. My family and I were very excited. I knew exactly where I wanted to go."

Other schools followed, but by then Jones found himself behind the pursuers, and wasn't about to be caught.

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