Jones Excited About New Role

Perhaps no player on the roster has been asked to do more for the Blue Devils over the last two seasons than rising junior Marcus Jones. After entering Duke as an athlete, Jones is now training for his third position assignment in three seasons.

In 2005 Marcus Jones was an extremely promising receiver. In 2006 he earned the starting quarterback position. Now, in 2007, the 6-foot-3 Georgia product will try his hand as an outside linebacker - a move he hopes will be his last.

"So far I'm have a really good time playing linebacker," Jones told TDD. "There are some things that I still have to learn, and they'll be some bumps in the road, but I'm looking forward to becoming a big asset to the team at the position."

"Bumps" were exactly what Duke was hoping to avoid when Jones was lining up under center. Now, however, the Blue Devils are asking the former quarterback to play one of the most physical and contact drawing positions on the field, which will require Jones to once again put in the time on and off the field.

"Right now I'm about 218 pounds. I need to add between 10 and 15 more before we start the season. I don't think it'll be too hard to do that. I am looking forward to the contact though. I played receiver before and there was some contact there, so [getting hit] doesn't really bother me too much. Once I get a little bit stronger and thicker, I'll be able to give as good as I get."

Of course there is a lot more to being an effective outside linebacker than just hitting opponents. Since the position switch, Jones says he's had to study film daily while also working to pick up the tricks of the trade of another position.

"The good thing is it's not nearly as complicated as the quarterback position was, and I'm picking it up fast. I'm still learning how to deal with linemen that pick me up. That's been a big change because you have to make quick decisions about how to pick them up and beat them. I'm learning how to do that. I also am working on how to drop into pass coverage when needed."

After starting the season as the team's top quarterback in 2006, Jones was quickly supplanted by rookie Thaddeus Lewis. For the rest of the year he was unable to see extensive time on the field due to the Blue Devils' lack of depth at the quarterbacking spot - which was exposed as Lewis was continually hit and sacker by opponents. Once the season ended, Jones met with Coach Ted Roof to discuss a positional switch that would finally get the rising junior on the field for extended periods of time.

"After the season ended I was really thinking about making the switch to defense. I am a competitor and I wanted to get on the field somewhere. Coach brought it to my attention that the team would have some open spots at linebacker. He left it up to me if I wanted to stay at receiver or move to linebacker."

"After talking with Coach Roof I sat down with my father and we talked about it. We made the decision that this was what I needed to do. I see this as a new challenge, and that keeps me motivated. I came in hoping to help this program succeed, and I believe that I can do that for the next two seasons on defense."


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