Balancing Act: Jones Makes it Look Easy

It was just another day at the office for Sun Devils OF Mike Jones. Get up, go to class, and come to practice. In the fall it was football practice and this time of the year it is baseball practice. It is something that the two-sport star has come accustomed to.

"It is not hard at all. I have been doing it for quite a long time now. It's just like waking up every day and going to school. You wake up every day, go to school and go to practice," said Jones, "It doesn't matter if it's football, baseball or whatever it is, you get used to it. I've been used to it for awhile now."

Jones had a successful junior season on the gridiron, emerging as a go-to target for Dennis Erickson. The wide receiver caught 46 passes for 769 yards and ten touchdowns this past season. He doesn't believe his success on the football field will directly carry over to the diamond, but he thinks it will help.

"I really don't think of it like that, baseball is a totally different sport, just like football is," he stated. "You don't really carry that over. It was good having a successful season, individual and team wise. Now we can come over and win a Pac-10 championship in baseball and have a good individual season as well."

Last year Jones mainly played a defensive role for Coach Pat Murphy and the Pac-10 champion Sun Devil baseball team. As a sophomore last year, he got just 19 at bats and hit .319. This year he is just hoping to get an opportunity.

"Last year I did struggle a lot at the plate. Hitting is one of those things that you have to do all the time and get reps and reps and reps. Last year I didn't do that as much, but this year with a couple little changes to get more confidence at the plate. Hopefully I get more opportunities at the plate to get in that groove swinging the bat," said Jones.

"I think I'm the type of player that when I get that chance, I try and take advantage of it. Now that I have that opportunity, I look forward to coming out here every day and playing baseball."

Jones should get more of an opportunity after the losses of Tim Smith and Matt Spencer to the draft.

"Our outfield isn't as deep as it was last year. There are opportunities for everybody to play in the outfield. Once my opportunity comes I want to take advantage of it and have fun with it and if something happens, I'm still going to contribute to the team as much as I can."

Jones doesn't buy into the loft expectations many experts have pinned on the Devils.

"We really don't think about expectations much. We have our own expectations, we don't care what someone else in the paper says about us, they don't know anything about us," said Jones, "They just see we have a few prospects, we still have to come out to play. It doesn't matter if you start at 1, 100 or 1 million, it only matters what you end the year at in Omaha."

There is always the question as to what Jones will do when spring football practice rolls around. As a freshman, Jones didn't join ASU's baseball team until after spring practice. Last season Jones attended as many spring practices as he could, trying to learn Erickson's new system. This year, Jones isn't quite sure what he is going to do yet.

"I actually haven't discussed that with Coach Erickson yet. He wants me to come and talk to him, but I've been busy lately. One of these days I'll come in and talk to him and see what we can do about the spring this year."

"Last year I probably went to maybe, 8-12 practices. This year hopefully I can stay at baseball a little longer because last year I wasn't really familiar with the offense and I was the new guy with a whole new coaching staff, everybody had to work for a job," said Jones, "Now that I've kind of shown that I know what I'm doing with the offense, and what I'm capable of doing without playing in the spring, I can come out here and contribute on the baseball field."

With just one season left in the Valley, Jones isn't sure what sport he sees himself playing at the next level. Jones was drafted in the 42nd round of last year's draft by the Chicago White Sox. Jones also projects as a NFL draft prospect for the 2009 draft.

"If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked that question, I'd be rich right now. I don't really know, I enjoy playing both of them. Baseball season, I enjoy playing baseball and when it is football season I enjoy football. I'm just having fun with both for one more season."

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