Devell Jones wanted to compare himself to other athletes when he decided to attend Penn State's first Advanced Skill Camp of the summer Saturday. He received the opportunity to learn much about how he stacks up to others, but also how he stacks up to his own expectations, too.
The Lincoln High (Jersey City, N.J.) Class of 2015 running back said his 40-time, clocked at 4.6 seconds, was one of the highlights of his day-long experience at Penn State. It marked a full two/tenths of a second improvement from the 4.8 he was last clocked at when timed his freshman year.
"I wanted to compare myself with some good athletes, and great competition, and I wanted to see how I would do with some competition that was at least at my level or better," Jones said. "I feel I did pretty good, and I got my 40-time down. I think that was just because of working out, and I go to a trainer. He teaches me a lot of techniques and leg muscle strength workouts that get my 40-time down, and I'm pretty proud about that."
He's also proud of his sophomore season. The running back powered for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns according to the Newark Star-Ledger, and the results have led to interest from Penn State, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Miami.
One school stands out, though, and its why his camp experience meant all the more to him on a hot and humid afternoon.
"I'm a Penn State type of kid. If I had letters from schools all over the nation, I would definitely put Penn State in my top five, top 10," he explained. "[The reason] is education. It's my top priority, and coming here, I know I'd get a good education. I kind of look past football and see what life would be like after football."
Criminal Justice is an early leader in the clubhouse as the major he will likely pursue, but there is plenty of time to figure that out. He has already figured out his summer schedule, with trips to Rutgers and Temple already planned, and also a potential trip back to University Park for its three-day camp at the end of June.
He's also working to find a firm grasp on ball control, something he doesn't cite as a problem but also believes is key to success at not only the high school level, but collegiate level, as well. It was one of many tips he took away from the instruction he received during camp.
"Something I learned new was the way I was carrying the ball," he explained. "I always had it pressed against my rib cage, but the coach told me wrist above elbow, and to cap the ball, and that was something pretty good."
He learned something about Penn State, too.
He received a personal hello from PSU head coach Bill O'Brien Saturday, which was more than enough to keep his interest high and his sights set on earning an offer from the Nittany Lions.
"I didn't think the campus was this (nice). This is a great campus," Jones said. "I picked up a few things riding in. This is great.
"I spoke to Coach O'Brien, and it was great, and an honor. He said he would keep his eye on me, so that made me feel good. I'm just glad that I had that behind my back, and I just had to give him something to see."