Jones was Florida State's leading rusher last season despite missing the final four games of the season with an injured knee. Jones tore his anterior cruciate ligament and injured his medial collateral ligament in the Seminoles' 34-21 win at Wake Forest on Nov. 2.
The 240-pound junior tailback from Beaufort, S.C., averaged an Atlantic Coast Conference-best 104.2 yards per game, running for 938 yards and eight touchdowns. He was just 62 yards shy of becoming the eighth 1,000-yard rusher in school history.
Jones, who underwent successful surgery Nov. 26, is nearing the four-month mark in his rehabilitation. His spirits remain high and his work ethic strong. Jones, whose smile and laugh are contagious, chatted with TheTerritory Thursday afternoon prior to working on his cardiovascular training.
"I am feeling good. You might feel good but you know your leg is not really good - I think it's like that now but it's coming along just fine," Jones said and grinned. "People say the biggest test is mentally, but I don't know. Mentally, I don't think it will come into play until practice starts. Mentally, I am fine right now. I am ready to do my work and try to get it (knee) back."
Jones' injury, of course, was oft-debated by FSU fans. He re-entered the Wake Forest game after coming out with a sore right knee in the first half. Jones left for good when his knee buckled on a run up the middle in the second half. Additionally, he also shed a protective knee brace for a support sleeve at halftime.
Jones recorded five 100-yard games last season against Iowa State, Virginia, Maryland, Clemson and Miami. In fact, Jones rushed for a career-high 189 yards against the top-ranked Hurricanes, establishing the 10th-best rushing performance in school history. Jones had 354 yards in back-to-back games against Clemson and Miami, the most in two consecutive games at FSU since 1983.
Jones said the worst part following surgery was the inactivity. Fitted with a knee sleeve, Jones walks without a limp and says he hopes to be 100 percent by June, though he admits that might be unrealistic.
"It's a slow process. I hate laying around," Jones said and laughed. "Do what the trainers and doctors tell you what to do basically. I just have to be patient. The way I am looking at it, I want to be 100 percent by June. But you never know. I just have to keep working hard."
Jones' workouts at the moment consist of light jogging (straight ahead), jumping rope, shuttle drills and agility exercises. He also spends time on the stationary bicycle and stairmaster. FSU running backs coach Billy Sexton made a special trip to the Seminoles' weight room to check on Jones.
"He's a worker. He will get it done. He will go above and beyond the call of duty," Sexton said.
Jones, who will be a senior next season, is expected to anchor a solid rushing attack. Jones ranks 10th all-time at FSU with 1,917 yards and is tied for ninth with 16 career touchdowns.
Leon Washington emerged as a solid contributor as a freshman last season, finishing with 225 yards on 50 carries. Redshirt freshman Lorenzo Booker, who graded out perfectly (24 points) during a recent mat drill session, also will be watched closely in spring drills. And don't be surprised if Willie Reid is moved to wideout.
Jones has been impressed with the Seminoles' approach this offseason. The Seminoles will depart for spring break next week before returing for the start of practice.
"The mood of the team seems good," Jones said. "Everyone was enthused, putting their work in. It looked like they were getting after it. People were getting after it."
Prized recruit Alex Boston of Bartow High School recently underwent successful surgery on his torn anterior cruciate ligament (right knee), FSU recruiting coordinator John Lilly said Thursday. Boston, who suffered the injury during a prep soccer match, will redshirt next season.
Lilly was in his office Thursday watching film one last time before packing for the coaching staff's annual cruise next week.
"Certainly, quarterback is a big priority (next year)," Lilly said. "You would like to sign a quarterback every year. We didn't sign one this year. Again, as we've talked about before, we didn't go into it saying, 'Boy, we definitely have to get a great quarterback.' I still feel like that was an area that gives us a great chance to get a very good one this year and there will be some great prospects available.
"You look down the line, and we've got a really big group of junior receivers and we are going to lose them here in the next couple of years, so we want to be able to sign some more receivers. We need to sign another three, four offensive linemen to go in with the ones we brought in this year. And on offense it's a little tricky because we only have one senior on the whole offense. And yet we are so heavy with some juniors and sophomores that you have to be signing guys or you are going to end up with nobody on offense in a couple of years.
"On defense, you have a bunch of seniors starting. And guys behind them are hopefully waiting on their opportunity. At the same time, we haven't signed a whole lot of guys in the defensive backfield the last three years really. We struggled a little bit to sign corners because we've played with young corners. This year, we have two seniors and two juniors and we signed two in there. Then you start looking at your safeties, and the last two years we haven't signed very many safeties. So, we need to sign in the secondary. And we lose all three of our starters at linebacker, so we have to sign some linebackers, Up front, we have some guys but you are always looking to add there - I think we need to sign an end or two and a tackle or two."
Adrian McPherson's career with the Seminoles never really did get off on the right foot. McPherson and his family were nearly three hours late for the scheduled dinner at a local restaurant when he made his official visit to FSU.