Charlie Jones Battling at RB

With junior running back Tyrone Moss suffering a slight injury before the start of spring practices, Miami's running game is opening up its options. Enter sophomore Charlie Jones, who as a freshman coming in was toted as the shifty, breakaway running back the Canes were counting on to bolster their offense.

"The door is wide open right now," Jones said. "I'm not knocking Tyrone, but it's [running back position] up for grabs."

Jones, a Homestead native who attended South Dade High School, says his goal right now is to, "contribute to the team as much as possible and help win a national title."

Jones compliments Moss's downhill power running style with a combination of speed and instincts. In the off-season, he worked on speed the most, which included lots of sprint work and endurance training. At 5-foot-11 and 206 pounds, Jones didn't lose any weight in the off-season while contributing to his speed and jokes that his body fat is "non-percent."

Mid-way through the summer, Jones said he was timed as running a 4.5 40-yard dash and will be timed again at the beginning of this football season.

Although Jones did not see much action last year at tailback because of both Frank Gore and Tyrone Moss, he did contribute to special teams most of the year. To Jones however, his freshman year was about fitting into Miami's team and game plan. He learned a lot from watching both Gore and Moss, but now feels like his time has come.

"This is my time to shine and give the coaches confidence in me every down," he said.

Jones rushed for 25 yards on six attempts last year, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Without Moss in the spring lineup, Jones is receiving greater challenges and more experience.

"I get more reps in practice and it helps me learn the offense a lot more," he said.

Jones admits that he's made his share of mistakes during practice, but as they've progressed, he's gotten more into the game-like mentality and focused much more.

"I'm trying to move up in the depth chart, get more game time, and earn the job as the running back at Miami."

Besides Moss, Jones' competition comes from Andrew Johnson, a 5'11", 211-pound speedster out of Pittsburgh. Johnson has lost a little weight in the off-season, but is most concerned with getting healthy. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in December practices and will be out for the 2005 season.

With Johnson out, redshirt freshman Derron Thomas and George Timmons are also competing for playing time in the spring.

It should be interesting to watch how this situation develops between Moss and Jones because Jones saw action in the Peach Bowl last January, although it was limited. He rushed one time for nine yards against Florida.

He gives Coach Larry Coker the big-play ability he's been looking for since Willis McGahee and looks like he's even with Moss as far as what the coaches are letting out. The coaches have kept the reference to starting running back wide open, not naming anyone definite. It could be due to Moss' health, but don't be surprised if you see number 34, not number 30, starting in the backfield in 2005.

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