Marcel Jones has always dreamed of playing Division I football, and the way things are going, that dream could come true.
Jones, a 6-3, 205-pound junior quarterback from Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., told GoldenSports.Net recently that he has received interest from over 40 Division I colleges, including Iowa, Minnesota, Boston College, South Carolina Wisconsin, and Notre Dame, among others. He was a guest of the Hawkeyes when Iowa played Michigan earlier this season, and right now lists Iowa as his favorite.
"I really liked the atmosphere down there," said Jones. "Iowa is a great place for football and the fans really love their team."
Jones has received interest from Minnesota, and although he isn't a big fan of the campus, he had nothing but positive things to say about assistant coach Moe Ankeny, the primary coach recruiting Jones. Jones missed some camps and training over the summer because he was ill with an undiagnosed viral infection, but Ankeny showed Jones a lot of support.
"Coach Ankeny is a very nice guy and I am really impressed with him," said Jones. "He treated me very well when I was sick and I have a lot of respect for him."
Jones also knows that the Gophers recently received a commitment from quarterback John Carlson of Hopkins (Minn.) High School, which could play a role in future decisions involving the Gophers.
Jones was a key player on the Simley team that went to the state tournament for the first time in school history last season. Jones has started on varsity since his freshman season and entered this year with 3,269 combined rushing and receiving yards in his career. Jones was an All-Conference selection last season and finished fourth in the state in total offense – completing 112 of 207 passes for 1,621 yards and rushing 117 times for 527 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Heading into Wednesday's regular season final, Jones was second in the Classic Suburban Conference in passing with 1,072 yards. Jones has completed 57 of 118 passes for 11 interceptions and six touchdowns. He has also rushed for 244 yards and five touchdowns. The team has gone to a balanced offensive attack this year, and has a few talented running backs and wide receivers who are receiving interest from Division II and III schools, taking some of the offensive burden off Jones.
"He will do whatever it takes to put his team in a position to win," said his head coach and father Randy Jones, who played semi-pro football. "He doesn't need to throw the ball, he would be happy if he never threw the ball and won every game."
Jones has the intangibles needed in a quarterback. Besides a strong arm, and good speed – he runs a 4.7 40-yard dash – he also has a knack for coming through in the clutch. Last season he led the Spartans to the state tournament by producing two sensational final drives - a 69-yard game-winning drive in the Spartans' section semifinal win and a 78-yard final drive to help the Spartans win the section championship game.
"This is where Marcel shines," said coach Jones. "He led his team to both wins with big plays and consistent calmness."
Jones has attended numerous camps, including those at Florida and Iowa State. He missed camps at Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin last summer because he was ill. He has also participated in the Chris Meidt Passing Camp, the Jeff Trickey Passing Series, and last summer earned All-American Honors at the National 7-on-7 Tournament in Houston, Texas.
Marcel Jones said another reason he favors Iowa right now is because of the diversified offense the Hawkeyes run.
"They seem to do whatever works for them," he said. "One game they might pass 70 percent and run 30 percent, and the next game they might run 70 percent and pass 30 percent."
Jones has been told he has the talent to play Division I football and knows if he continues to work hard that dream could come true.
"I've always loved the game of football," he said. "With my dad being a coach I was always around the game and it has been a passion of mine ever since I was a kid."
Jones said he will likely make a decision during the middle of his high school football season next year. Until then, it's time to work had and get better. Jones can bench 235 pounds and squat 350.
"As I tell Marcel, he must work hard, develop his skills and continue to get good grades," said Randy Jones. "The rest will fall into place. The one thing I can tell you is, I have never coached a competitor like him. I also know Marcel is focused on playing at a major college, and he will work as hard as he possibly can to achieve that goal. Those attributes are what I think sets him apart. He has that intangible that is needed to succeed."
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