Today at practice Khalil Jones started off on the right foot with a touchdown catch during redzone offense on a pass from Kyle Wright.
"It set the tempo of practice for me," Jones said. "They tell us to get off fast and I kind of set the pace for me throughout the whole day."
Wright has seen Jones improve since he arrived on campus as a freshman in the fall.
"His learning curve from when he first got here until now has been huge," Wright said. "When he first came out here you could tell it was his first day on campus. The strides he has made have been big and hopefully he makes the same amount of progress in the next year."
He followed his touchdown catch with a 50-yard reception during the one-on-one drill against Marcus Maxey. Maxey has encouraged Jones and helped him adapt to Miami football since he first arrive. After the play Maxey congratulated Jones on the great play.
But his best play came during 11-on-11's at the end of practice. Jones ran a deep post blowing by the safeties and Kirby Freeman threw a great ball as Jones ran under it and ran towards the endzone for a touchdown.
"It was a deep post, inside release, up 16, and angle toward the endzone," Jones said. "I kind of pulled away five yards and looked up. It came to me faster than I thought it was."
Jones, who is a very spiritual young man, with a good head on his shoulders reflected on his performance today.
"It was a blessing," Jones said. "All of the hard work paid off today. I just came out here with a clear head and did what I was supposed to do."
Head coach Larry Coker commented on his play today after practice.
"He is starting to emerge as a playmaker for us," Coker said. "That is really encouraging because I think he is going to be a good player."
At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds he provides potential matchup problems with defensive backs. Not only does he possess good size, but great speed.
"I think Khalil has great size and speed," Coker said. "He is a kid that likes to play and is very smart."
He understands his speed is an asset for him especially when the opposition does not expect it.
"It is a great aspect for me because I am a big receiver," Jones said. "It is always good to be fast. They see my size and my speed becomes a secret weapon for me."
Last year Jones redshirted and dealt with injuries. It was a tough year for him as he bounced in and out of practice dealing with an ankle injury and his groin.
"It was hard for me," Jones said. "It was the first time I had ever been hurt. Having to go to practice every day was a real trial because I couldn't play."
Jones kept a positive state of mind through the tough times.
"I had to ask God for strength because I won't lie to you, it was hard," Jones said truthfully.
Coming into the spring this year he wanted to work on staying low, his hands, ability to run routes, and learning all of the plays.
He is competing for playing time with a number of receivers who are returning this year.
"What a great group we have," Jones said. "We are a real talented group. Coach C.J. is a great man and tells us everything we need to know."
Jones comments on the other receivers:
Sinorice Moss, Senior, 5-8 185
"Sinorice is the leader of our group and is so fast."
Ryan Moore, Junior, 6-3, 215
"Ryan is right up there with him, but is quiet. He is so smooth out there."
Darnell Jenkins, Junior, 5-10, 185
"Darnell is a straight up go-getter. He will go get that ball and wants the ball."
Akieem Jolla, Junior, 6-4, 190
"Jolla is up and coming doing his thing out there. I am expecting big things out of him."
Lance Leggett, Sophomore, 6-4, 185
"Lance--that's my boy right there. He always motivates me. We came in together and I encouraged him when I was hurt. Now he is encouraging me since he is hurt."
Terrell Walden, Sophomore, 6-0, 160
"I grew up with Terrell and we are both just learning our plays out there."
Practice resumes tomorrow at 9:50 am at Cobb Stadium.
Jones looks to have another great day.
"My confidence is up right now," Jones said. "I just have to keep trusting in the Lord, do what I am supposed to do, listen to my coaches, do my schoolwork, and stay out of trouble."
Christopher Stock is a Senior Writer & Assistant Editor for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at email@example.com
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