Jones Hits a Home Run on the Gridiron

Wide receiver Mike Jones is a rare two-sport athlete. His mark has been felt much stronger in football, and his performance in the spring ending scrimmage is convincing evidence as any. Nonetheless, in a few days it's back to the hardball for the Sugar Land, Tex. product, as he tries to establish himself on the baseball team as well.

"I only played football since my sophomore year," said the 6-3 194 Mike Jones. "I've been playing baseball all my life, so it's always been a toss up between both sports and that's why I play both. It's been a dream of mine to play both sports, and to play both sports at a place like this is lovely."

Jones, who's a 2004 graduate of Fort Bend Austin High School, earned two baseball letters and three for football. He started in centerfield during his prep days, and led his team in stolen bases as a junior. In three games at Arizona State, he's yet to register a hit, but feels that right now that he can devote more time, it will be a matter of when, not if.

In the meantime, his impact in football is starting to gain steam. In the last few games of 2005 he played extensively, due to various injuries on the receivers unit. He has earned the praise of head coach Dirk Koetter, for his consistency and ability to play al three wide receiver roles. As a former signal caller, Jones doesn't make any excuses for his performance that can be legitimately attributed to learning a new position. "Yeah, it's been a little bit of an adjustment," he admitted. "I always played quarterback until I came here. But I always was able to catch the ball a little bit with some friends back home in Houston. So I always had good hands and knew what I was doing."

Indeed, no one can claim that the sophomore isn't knowledgeable with the ways of the position. On Saturday he led all receivers with seven catches for 142 yards. Two of his catches went for scores, including a 49-yard catch for a touchdown. "I improved on catching the ball and my releases," he stated as he self-described his skills. "If you look at old film, I was always sluggish and didn't know what I was doing. I learned a lot from Derek Hagan and those guys."

Now that the aforementioned Hagan and two other seniors have departed, Jones is feeling the motivation and sense of urgency to immediately produce. "After those three guys left (Moey Mutz and Matt Miller being the other two), I knew I had to step up," he said. "(Wide Receivers) Coach Jackson asked me what I want to accomplish this spring, and I told him that I want to be the #1 guy this year. I got big shoes to fill, and I know that. That has pushed me forward."

Judging by his performance in the scrimmage, not only has he been pushed, but also ascended to being one of the brightest spots of spring practice and one who intends to take full advantage of the opportunities that await him.

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