Jones Thrives at 7-on-7

Isaiah Jones said he just wanted to go out and play through some pain, to see how his recently injured shoulder felt.

And in the second game of the Lake Travis 7-on-7 SQT, he got his wish. Trying to make a play before the half, Austin High lobbed the ball up toward its top playmaker and Jones, a 6-foot-1 wideout, made an absolute highlight catch. The ball was thrown high and behind Jones, who turned, leapt, and snagged the ball one-handed, landing a foot inbounds as he fell to the ground, clutched by a defender.

It was a catch, but Jones hit the ground so hard that his father — former NFL linebacker Robert Jones (who played with the Cowboys, among other teams) — hopped from his seat and ran to make sure Isaiah was OK. He didn't need to worry.

When you catch it," Isaiah said, smiling afterward, "it feels a lot better than when you drop it."

It was one of several outstanding plays pulled in by the talented wide receiver. And he made some of them wearing a No. 4 Austin High jersey. The explanation was simple enough: Austin High just didn't have Isaiah's No. 7 jersey in one of its colors. But from afar, it would have been easy to mistake Isaiah for older brother Cayleb Jones, last year's wearer of the No. 4 Austin High jersey and a current Texas Longhorn.

"I was a little sad in the beginning," Isaiah said of Cayleb heading to Texas. "We still talk to each other. We text each other. He's always encouraging me and keeping me up. He's not too far away, but he's really, really busy with all his stuff."

And Isaiah is about to be really busy with his. On top of 7-on-7, Jones plans on hitting a number of summer camps, though he's still working on which ones to attend. At least one, June 10, will be at Texas. But other than that, he has plenty of options.

"It's a good problem to have, I'd say," Jones said.

It's impossible not to make at least somewhat of a comparison between the two brothers. Both are the "nice guys off the field, totally competitive on it" types. And Cayleb once said that Robert used to tell him that if he lost a single jump ball, he would have to walk home. He played like it, and Isaiah does as well.

"My dad's always saying stuff to us," Isaiah said. "He really helps me a lot. He's probably the most encouraging person you'll probably ever meet. And he's critical, which helps. He's a guy that's going to tell you how you did, and he's not going to sugarcoat anything."

Isaiah said those tweaks in his game have helped him to improve as a player, and he enters his senior season as a leader on what he thinks should be a better Austin team than the one that took the field a year ago. He'll be at the center of everything, a do-it-all player who should have responsibility in the return game, as a runner, a passer and a receiver. He's even slated to play some Wildcat quarterback.

And Jones said he feels like he has pieces around him, with people going all-in with the strength and conditioning program.

"We just want to come out and compete," Jones said. "We want to win and have fun doing it. We have a good group of guys who care. We expect to win."

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