Jones Receives Attention Following Big Day

FAYETTEVILLE -- Felix Jones insists he doesn't mind getting lost in Darren McFadden's extremely large shadow.

Sometimes, it pays to be the other Arkansas running back.

Jones didn't grace a dozen magazine covers this summer. His No. 25 replica jersey is not a hot seller around town. And school officials didn't launch a Web site devoted to getting his name out there as an early Heisman Trophy candidate.

That's suits Jones just fine.

"I just want to go out here and play football and have fun. That's my whole reason for coming (to Arkansas)," Jones said Tuesday. "I'm not too big on the spotlight stuff."

As much as he doesn't like it, Jones should be accustomed to the notoriety by now. He rushed for 1,168 yards and six touchdowns last season despite sharing carries with McFadden, the Heisman Trophy runner-up.

Jones also posed for pictures that appeared in ESPN The Magazine and The Sporting News last month.

And the junior can expect much more attention following his performance in No. 18 Arkansas' 46-26 win over Troy University in Saturday's season opener.

Jones rushed for 40 yards on Arkansas' first play from scrimmage, returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and added a 44-yard touchdown run after halftime.

He finished with 129 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries, and he added another 144 yards and another score on three kickoff returns.

"He's one of the best backs in the country, there is no secret," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "That's why he's on the Doak Walker Award (watch list), and a valuable, valuable guy.

"(He) brings a lot of energy to our team, and he's tough."

Jones' productive first game put his name toward the top of several national categories. He ranks second nationally in kickoff returns (48.0 yards per return) and all-purpose yards (287.0 per game), as well as tied for 21st in scoring (12 points) and 22nd in rushing yards (129.0 per game).

Not surprisingly, Jones was named the Southeastern Conference's special teams player of the week on Monday after he returned his third kickoff for a touchdown in a little more than two seasons.

"It's so much fun on Saturday when you go out there and you have a game like that," Jones said.

As expected, McFadden captured most of the headlines following Saturday's season opener. He's the Sports Illustrated cover boy, after all.

McFadden rushed for a game-high 151 yards and one touchdown, and he also threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Crosby Tuck.

But Jones managed to make a mark, as well.

After Troy drove 69 yards to cut Arkansas' lead to 13-7 early in the second quarter, Jones took the ensuing kickoff and waited for his blockers to create a hole large enough for him to run through.

Once they did, all Jones had to do was avoid one tackle and side-step Troy kicker Greg Whibbs on his way for a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

"He has a feel for just kind of setting up a little bit and being patient and knowing when to hit it and get through a seam," Arkansas special teams coach James Shibest said.

"And of course, when he gets through it, he's got great speed to take it all the way. It's tough to score (touchdowns) on kickoffs."

Only Tennessee's Willie Gault has returned more kickoffs for touchdowns (4) than Jones. And the Arkansas junior was annoyed that he had missed an opportunity to score when he fielded the opening kickoff Saturday.

Turns out, he was a half-second too late getting to a large hole in the kickoff coverage.

"I missed it, but the second time it was another chance and that's what I like about the new (kickoff) rule. It gives us enough time just to see and set up for the kick return," Jones said.

"I had fun Saturday, and I'm looking forward to scoring a lot more touchdowns out of that."

Rushing Yards

Carries Yds TD Lg Avg.

12 129 1 44 10.8

Receiving Yards

Rec. Yds TD Lg

1 14 0 14

Return Yards

Returns Yds TD Lg

3 144 1 90

All Purupose Yards

Run Receive KR Total

120 14 144 287

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