Matt Jones II

For the second time in a short time span, Fort Smith Northside has an athlete named Matt Jones (6-2, 215, 4.6) that is drawing interest from major college football programs, but this one is doing so as a defensive player.

How would you like to be the next Matt  Jones?

Not figuratively, but literally.

For the second time in six years, Fort Smith Northside has a great rising senior named Matt Jones.

But instead of being a quarterback-wideout that also excelled at the University of Arkansas and is now in the NFL, this Matt Jones (6-2, 215, 4.6) is a safety-outside linebacker.

"This Matt Jones will run through you instead of away from you," Northside head coach Darrell Henry said. "When he arrives at the play, he brings a load with him and you know he has been there."

Jones, who amassed over 70 tackles and four interceptions this season, is already being show interest by Arkansas, Arkansas State and UCA in-state and several other out-of-state schools have started requesting tape.

"It is kind of funny that Northside has another Matt Jones so quick and everybody wants to talk about how my name is the same as is," Northside's current Jones said. "People always ask me are you as good as him? I kind of take it as an honor to have the same name and I want to live up to the same type standards that he did."

Jones, a two-year starter for the Grizzlies, floated between safety and outside linebacker as a junior.

"We started him out as a free safety before having to move him up to linebacker because of injuries and needing him there," Henry said. "You like to have him back there in the secondary because he has such a great break on the ball and looks like one of those 4.3 guys back there. But at linebacker, he also uses that speed, really recognizes the play well and arrives there in a bad mood."

Henry expects Jones to be a full-time outside linebacker this season.

"I also think that is the position that he will play in college, but he will do it at 225 or 230 and really be something then," Henry said. "He is going to be one of the best football players on the field no matter who we play next season. He is highly intelligent and always where he is suppose to be on the field."

He'll also likely get to make plays with the ball in his hand this season while catching passes from Northside standout quarterback Kodi Burns.

"He is a such a great athlete and we are going to need somebody at tight end to make plays and right now we are looking at putting him there and having him go both ways," Henry said. "It will be hard to take him off the field next season."

Jones said he is impressed with what Arkansas has done lately as far as coaching hirings and recruiting.

"I think hiring Gus Malzahn was a great hire and I think with the last few classes they have recruited they are really going to be able to compete in the SEC next year," Jones said. "It is a school I am really interested in."

Jones will make sure he is seen by the Razorback coaches by attending both of the summer camps offered by Arkansas this summer - the senior high camp on June 11-14 and the Seniors Only camp on July 21-22.

"I am going to work hard in the offseason and over the summer to put myself in the best position with college coaches," Jones said, " but also to put myself in the best position to help my team win."

Jones is currently playing power forward for Northside's basketball team, which is sitting in third-place in the AAAAA-standings behind Fayetteville and Rogers.

His shining moment on the court this season was scoring 20 points and leading Northside (16-4, 8-3) to an upset of Fayetteville.

"We have had a good season, but just had a couple of letdowns here lately that have hurt us," Jones said. "I think we will get back playing together and make a run."

But he can help think a little bit ahead about what football is going to be like next season with Springdale no longer going to be the hands down best team in the state.

"This past year we came in with high expectations, but of course Springdale was the dominant team," Jones said. "Next year I expect us to be like Springdale - not a powerhouse like them, but a team that is certainly capable of being number one to start with and going on to win the state title."

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