Jones Prepares For Leadership Role

DURHAM, N.C. - With football practice set to begin next week, one sophomore will put his pads on just as he did last August, but in doing so prepares to take on a much more integral role on this year's Blue Devil team.

Marcus Jones finds himself at the top of the quarterback depth chart going into the 2006 season after his first year as a Blue Devil saw the true freshman prove to be a force on the field. One of Duke's best athletes, he saw playing time in all 11 games in 2005 and started four seeing most of his game action, including all four starts, at wide receiver while picking up some experience at quarterback along the way.

"We didn't have many wide receivers so that's where they needed me the most," Jones said of his role on last year's squad. "If I wouldn't have played wide receiver I probably wouldn't have had much experience at all since I didn't play much quarterback last year, so I feel like my experience at wide receiver is going to help a lot. Knowing the intensity and the speed of the game will definitely help."

Although Jones saw limited time under center in his first collegiate campaign, the position is not at all foreign to the Georgia native. Jones estimates his time on the high school grid at 60:40, playing the majority of his snaps at quarterback. Combine that experience and a summer in Durham taking classes, working out with his teammates and watching film, and Jones feels that he has prepared enough for the opportunity at hand and is ready to take on his new role.

"This opportunity is great; all in all, this is what I wanted," said Jones. "Right after the season I went to quarterback and stayed there throughout spring practice. My off-season went well; I spent a lot of my time learning the offense and have been working on my accuracy and throwing. I think I've gotten better and now I feel more confidence in myself than ever to lead this team. I'm going to lead by example then once I gain the respect of my teammates then I can step up and become more vocal."

With just two scholarship quarterbacks on the Duke roster, Jones finds himself in an immediate must-serve leadership role while freshman Thaddeus Lewis settles into in the very position that Jones was in last season – vying for playing time as a true freshman. Lewis will undoubtedly look to Jones for advice this season and Jones' initial remarks are simple -- take advice from anyone who is willing to give it.

"Be open-minded about everything and willing to learn new things," said Jones. "Out of high school you might have developed habits but be you have to be willing to adjust and just take it all in."

With the Blue Devils set to begin practice on Monday, August 7, one might think that all the extra pressure and preparation would be taking a toll on Jones, but that certainly isn't the case. He vows to keep his hard-working attitude unchanged and keep moving forward.

"Football is my passion so I never really get tired of it," said Jones. "I'm looking forward to the start of practice. We're not going to miss a beat and we're going to look forward to having a successful season. I'm ready to put the pads on."

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