Jones Hopes To Be Two-Way Tide Player
Alabama Coach Nick Saban announced at the beginning of spring practice that a handful of players would be looked at a new positions. He stressed – as do we – that such moves are not necessarily permanent. One advantage of a spring experiment is the possibility of finding where a player better fits for himself and the team. Another advantage is that if the need arises later, say next fall, a player who has been exposed to a position would be more capable of making that move.
The most notable spring experiments have been the moves of offensive players to defensive back. Tailback Dee Hart got a look at safety, but appears to be back on offense. Wide receiver Cyrus Jones seems to have made the move to cornerback.
And Christion Jones, the 5-11, 185-pound junior from Adamsville, is still putting in double duty.
He is working at his familiar slot position as a Crimson Tide wide receiver and also practicing at cornerback. He said that he hopes that is still the case in the fall. He said, "We haven't figured that out. We're not really even worried about that right now. We're just trying to get reps because you never know what can happen."
Jones has played both offense and defense in the two scrimmages and expects to play both receiver and defensive back in Bama's A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday. Alabama has a Thursday practice, then concludes spring training with the annual spring game, which begins at 2 p.m. CDT. There is no admission charge and the game will be televised by ESPN2.
Jones said that the difficulty in moving from offense to defense is primarily "the mental challenge. I know the offense pretty well. So for me to go to the defensive side, where things get a little more complicated conceptually, is fun, but it's a learning experience."
Jones also said he thinks the spring experiment will pay dividends regardless of the final outcome. "Even if I don't become a DB guy, it will help me as a receiver to know what to look for and how defenses are attacking our offense."
Jones has an interesting learning method. "I'm more of a motion learner," he explained of his work at cornerback. "You get to see guys mess up. That's how I really learn. I learn on the field. I have to do it and mess it up. When I see other guys mess it up, I know what to fix when my chance comes."
Jones is not a neophyte. At Minor High School he was known for his defensive skills, at least until he became a two-way player as a senior.
He was a starter at defensive back in almost every game in his prep career. "I'm comfortable with it," he said. "I have a lot of confidence in myself to play either one. I am familiar with playing defense from high school. It all kind of goes together, because I played offense also a lot my senior year of high school. It all kind of worked together. I'm familiar with both sides of the ball."
Jones said that working with Saban at cornerback in practice "is fun." But, he said, in the early going he had his struggles.
"You don't feel lost," he said. "You just can't play fast because you don't really know what you're doing. Once you know what to do, you pick up on things.
"Then it's a matter of repetitions. You're probably not going to get it the first time or the second time, but the third time you should have it."
Whether he ends up on offense or defense, Christion Jones expects to have fun.
"It's always fun when you're playing football," he said.
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