The Byrnes High (Duncan, S.C.) product said he has worked on becoming leaner, quicker and faster in the offseason, and that effort quickly caught the attention of starting quarterback Dylan Thompson, who singled out Jones after spring practice as a player to watch on the Gamecocks’ roster this fall.
“In the offseason, I saw a few articles I don’t want to mention -- and those gave me a little extra motivation,” Jones said. Not that he necessarily needed it.
Along with the senior Thompson, Jones is being looked at as one of the offensive leaders of the team this season -- a change Jones has had to learn to embrace.
“It’s little bit different for me, because I’m one of the quietest guys on the team,” he said. “But being a fifth-year guy and a leader of the receiving corps, I’ve got to step up and talk more and be more active in the offense. It’s bringing the best out of me, so I’m actually enjoying it.”
Nick Jones 1st day of Fall camp
Jones has 51 career catches for 621 yards and six touchdowns in 35 games for the Gamecocks, and those numbers are light years ahead of some of the team’s young receivers such as freshmen Shaq Davidson (Gaffney) and Tyshun “Deebo” Samuel (Chapman, Inman, S.C.). Jones’ reception total even doubles that of junior Shaq Roland, who is expected to be among Thompson’s top options this season.
Jones said working with the younger receivers has been among his responsibilities. “I want to teach them what to do off the field so they don’t get in trouble off the field,” he said.
On the field, Jones and Thompson, a former Region 2-4A rival from Boiling Springs, have developed a chemistry that has its roots in the Upstate.
“I’ve been with Dylan ever since our middle school days,” Jones recalled. “I think we have great chemistry. We’re together all the time, and we work out all the time, so it should be fun. We’ve been through a lot and seen a lot together, so, hopefully, we can read these defenses and make them look bad this year.”
“I’ve been here with some greats -- watching those guys have great years in this offense,” Jones said. “Hopefully, I’ll be the next one. Who knows?”
(This story also appears in Upstate Game Day youth sports magazine.)