To know Sheriron Jones, you have to understand the qualities of a leader of MEN. Jones is the quarterback at Moreno Valley (Cali.) Rancho Verde, a school that has gone on to the state championship game for four straight years. Not many can say that about their high school or the team he leads, but Jones can.
The one asterisk here is that in the three years his team has been to the championship, he’s only won it as a freshman. It is something that eats him and his fellow seniors more than many of us will ever know. So, he is looking for his classmates to change things up just a little bit and hit a gear they haven’t attained in his first three years.
“I am looking for the older guys to see how hungry they are,” Jones said of his senior classmates. “I want to see the improvements of the younger guys. Being a senior you have to show the younger guys how to react to certain situations.”
Things have been so close in the last two years. They lost by a last minute touchdown in the championship when he was a sophomore. Last year, like a stake through the heart, he watched as a missed short field goal went wide and his team lost the final game by a single point in the last seconds.
It was sad at the time. it has only increased his resolve for this season.
“This year I have a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “Usually I go out and play for the seniors. This year it is my year. We seniors have a chip on our shoulder. We’ve been going to (the championship) but not winning it. We need to make sure we aren’t in the predicament where we have to depend on a field goal.”
A championship type quarterback is just what the doctor ordered in Gainesville, where the offense hasn’t lived up to expectations for five seasons now. And with the QB title comes the leader tag. That doesn’t start when he arrives on campus. That has to start in the recruiting process when guys are feeling out different programs and seeing what they offer.
Florida is after some pretty big time athletes in the 2015 class, athletes that compete on the same level as Jones. He understands that and he also understands that Florida isn’t for everyone.
With that in mind, Jones is not going to be that high pressure guy trying to convince every blue chip athlete on the planet to be a Gator. Instead, he wants them all to know that if they do have interest, he is a guy that they can talk to about it. That he certainly wants them to be a part of it, but that it does nobody any good to go to a place where you aren’t ready to get the work done.
He also doesn’t care what kind of stars appear before their names on the recruiting networks. He looks more at where their mindset is in terms of how hard they are ready to work.
“I want them to be my teammates and have the best recruiting class,” Jones said before qualifying it a bit. “I don’t care about the rankings. I care about what type of person they are. I want someone that will work. I want them ready to go and let’s do it.”
It is that work ethic that has led him to playing in three state championship games and logically headed to a fourth. He doesn’t mind that others may be deemed better at his position, he knows what he has to do to take of the bottom line… winning games.
“I might not be at the high standard as a Blake Barnett and a Drew Rosen, but my work ethic shows everyone that I work hard,” Jones said. “When all the cameras are on you and the stress is so bad, you have to make the right decision.”
The pressure is tough on the football field and in the process of choosing a program to be a part of in college. The relentless pursuit by college recruiters, fans, and reporters is enough to turn people off to the process. It is why he chooses to befriend the prospects rather than pressure them into anything.
“I know what it is like to have all these people in your face and after you,” he said. “If I talk to them like that they will be like ‘here is this guy coming in to tell me where to go’. At the same time I let them know we want you to be a Gator. I want you to be my teammate, but it is up to you.”
“’I know everyone wants you, but at the end of the day it’s your decision’,” he would say. “’I am not going to be like these recruiters and reporters telling you this and that and trying to get you to go their program.’”
“I am going to talk to them as a friend. ‘As a player I know what you are going through.’ When I get on the phone I don’t talk to them as a recruiter, but as a friend, just so they will talk to me as a friend.”
The friend part eventually leads to a fun group of prospects that all have a goal in mind when it comes to Florida. Make it better. It is an exclusive group right now that can be entered into when you set that goal of being a Gator.
The 10 commitments that are a part of the current Florida recruiting class have formed a brotherhood of sorts. These guys are bonding in a way that they should be able to finish each other’s sentences by the time they arrive on campus together in 2015.
“I talk to the guys that are committed to Florida, we talk brotherly, we have our group text and we talk every day,” Jones said. “We are building that chemistry and love for one another. I can get on the phone right now and text one of them and everyone else sees it.”Jones, receiver Derrick Dillon, tight ends Camrin Knight and Kalif Jackson, linemen Tyler Jordan, George Brown, Mike Horton, and Andrew Ivie, and linebackers Adonis Thomas and Jerome Baker are all forming special relationships with everyone else in the group.
“All of that will help in the future if I know what each of these guys are going to do,” Jones said. “With Tyler and George, I know I can trust those guys and our chemistry is built before we take a single snap together. That is our relationship now. It’s me and all the commits.
“I love those guys. I have a real understanding of where they are coming from and everything and their lifestyle. Coming in I’m not going to have problems with any of them. We’ll be able to go out and go to dinner.”
And he also loves the fans and wants them to understand what Sheriron (pronounced ‘Sure-on’) Jones is all about.
“I want everyone to know me as the workaholic,” he said. “I want our whole team to be workaholics that we are out there grinding every day so we can bring that championship back to The Swamp. I want everyone working hard, literally almost passing out at practice. I want that confidence that we can take it (the championship) and we are going to. I want everyone at Florida to know that I am going to make sure that happens.”