Jones ready to go 'beast' in pads

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After finishing in the bottom of the barrel nationally in pass defensive (111 of 120) opportunity in the Tennessee Volunteers secondary is abundant.

That couldn't be truer for junior college transfer and Columbus, Ga., native Riyahd Jones. Especially considering the expectation is immediate help.

"He is still going through his growing pains, but you can see the corner skill set that he has," head coach Butch Jones said Tuesday. "He has corner skills and we fully anticipate him helping us this year.

"When you bring a junior college player in you are doing it for immediate help. We did our due diligence and we are throwing so much at him and he is digesting everything from football to academics."

Jones, a 6-foot, 185-pounder says he was a bit star struck when a couple hundred visitors surrounded Haslam Field last Saturday for the Vols first spring practice, but he is settling in.

"It has been fun for the most part," he said. "It has been a lot of getting used to and a lot of adjustments. Saturday, my first practice, I was pretty nervous because this has been what I have been wanting since I was in high school. Saturday the jitterbugs kind of kicked in, but as practice went on they kind of left and today was a much better day.

"The first day it was just — I'm out here for the first time — SEC. There were a lot of (media) out here, a lot of family members and recruits. I had never seen anything like that, but when the pads go on that is when you are going to see a beast. I am just getting started."

While Jones has been clocked at a smoking 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, thus far, speed has been the biggest adjustment for the former Garden City (Kan.) Community College standout.

"The toughest adjustment was the speed of it," Jones said. "Coach Jones has the offense running high speed and pace. Once the one group of receivers run a play the second group is already back and ready to line up. You have to get your stuff together and get ready to go. That has been the toughest part. I am in shape, but the speed is just so much faster than junior college and Georgia Southern."

After spending time at Georgia Southern straight out of high school before transferring to Garden City, Jones has used several coaches along the way to develop his skill set, which he said gives him a slight edge over other young Vol corners.

"Not to take anything from those guys, but I have just been doing it longer," he said. "I was at Georgia Southern and had a great coach there. Then in junior college I had a great coach as well. And here with (defensive backs) coach (Willie) Martinez he is just redefining what I already had and implementing new things to make me a better corner."

Even as a newcomer to the Vol roster, Jones is already setting lofty goals for his first year on Rocky Top starting with a starting role on Jones' first roster.

"My expectations for myself this spring is just to get better as a player, develop a high trust level with all the coaches — offense, defense, special teams — and hopefully earn that starting spot because I didn't come here to be a back up," Jones said. "I came here to pursue my dreams."

Jones finished his only in junior college with 22 tackles and a team-leading five pass breakups in 10 games. You can see video comments from the new Vol below:


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