Surprise Spring Standout

CLEMSON - Coming in as the No. 2 prospect in the nation, most fans assumed Da'Quan Bowers would make all the headlines this spring. And certainly, he didn't disappoint. But how many knew that the same thing could be said of wide receiver Marquan Jones?

Sure, there was a thought he would see the field as a true freshman, especially if he enrolled in January, but nobody knew he could make this big of impact this early.

By the end of spring practice, Jones became a legitimate weapon in Clemson's offensive arsenal.

"He's polished," said head coach Tommy Bowden when asked Jones. "He runs good routes. Has good hands and does everything we've asked of him. He'll play for us this fall. I don't think there's any question about him being able to help us out."

Aside from a steady performance throughout spring ball, Jones was the standout of the second major scrimmage in Death Valley, catching eight passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

Some of those catches included the typical screen passes you'd expect to see from Clemson's high completion percentage offense, but others were much deeper down field on crossing patterns and deep posts.

Quite impressive for a true freshman going through his first spring practice.

"I really did try to start things off right," Jones said. "And I really felt like I was focused on what I had to do in terms of proving myself. It was all about staying focused here for my first spring."

Watching him on the field will remind many Clemson fans of former All-ACC wide receiver Chansi Stuckey. They have a similar build, similar height and run similar style routes.

But before it's all said and done, Jones may end up becoming more of a downfield threat than Stuckey ever was.

After all, he's already familiar with the offense after playing in a similar style at Blythewood High School and enrolling at Clemson a semester early, plus he looks to be physically ready to play as a true freshman.

In addition, he has a shiftiness to him that allows him to make the first defender miss.

But still, Jones says learning the intricacies of the playbook and gaining game day experience will be critical before he's anointed the kind of playmaker he feels he could eventually become.

"I'm still working hard and when playing time comes I'm going to let it happen," he said. "But for me it's the mental side of the game. It's all about being prepared and not making mental mistakes. If I do that the physical side of the game and the big plays and everything else will take care of itself."

Bowden said one of the keys will be to find where he'll fit in the offense long term.

"Once we get him locked into a position and once he gets consistent reps he's really going to help us this year," he said.

So while Da'Quan Bowers claims most of the headlines this fall when it comes to impact newcomers ... don't forget about Marquan Jones.

He won't be the biggest player on the field, but he'll have the opportunity to post the biggest numbers of a freshman wide receiver since Aaron Kelly's redshirt freshman year in 2004. Top Stories