Jones Adds Punch To Deep DE Spot

Five-Star DE standout Eddie Jones is currently the DH on his Kilgore baseball team, but count on the First-Team All-American to be one of the designated hitters on what promises to be a rock-solid Texas defense this season.

Inside Texas caught up with Jones this past week following a Kilgore baseball practice. The multi-faceted prep star intends to try to walk-on for Augie Garrido's squad next spring and already has Mack Brown's (qualified) permission to split time between the fields of Disch-Falk and Denius.

"Coach Brown said that as long as I keep my grades up, I can play two sports," Jones said, "and that's what I want to do."

But first things first: Jones plans to arrive in Austin on May 29 to participate in voluntary summer workouts. His major remains 'undeclared', but Jones will enroll in UT's first summer session and begin classes on June 1. Jones is in almost daily contact with at least one Longhorn coach, he reports.

"We talk three or four times a week," he said. "Sometimes I call them; sometimes they call me. Usually, I talk to Coach (Oscar) Giles or Coach (Gene) Chizik. I also talk a lot to Coach (Mack) Brown."

Jones is one of 25 newcomers who has already received a fitness manual from Texas coaches. The true freshmen (not named Jevan Snead or Sergio Kindle) most likely to lose their redshirts this season are those on the defensive front seven. It's a virtual given that Jones will be a factor in 2006 and could see action in the home opener against North Texas.

"They've given us a work-out plan and they told me to come in ready to play," said Jones, who currently stands 6-3 and tips the scale at 244. "They want to have a four-man rotation. They've already got three guys and I want to be the fourth."

Jones is referencing the four-man rotation behind veteran starters Tim Crowder, Brian Robison and 2005 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Brian Orakpo. Also in the mix are sophomores Aaron Lewis (saw action in 12 games as a true freshman; was "really, really impressive" during the spring, according to Mack Brown) and Christopher Brown (teammates have said is real head-knocker; appeared in six games last season before suffering a leg injury). True freshman DE Lamarr Houston (6-2, 257) will also add depth. The Colorado Springs product earned Parade All-American honor at linebacker and was named the Colorado Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.

(Note: Sophomore Henry Melton ended the spring listed at both RB and DE. But Mack Brown said the H-Train was so dominant during spring drills, despite his five yards on five carries during the spring game, that the stint at DE will diminish.)

Overall, it speaks volumes of the depth Brown now has at his disposal at DE. In fact, it's unprecedented for his nine-year tenure. Just three seasons ago, lack of able bodies at DE was, arguably, the team's biggest liability. Attrition related to academics (e.g., Mike Williams) and health (e.g., Kalen Thornton, Bryan Pickryl) was so high that coaches had to convert a MLB (Robison), a FB/SLB (Eric Hall), and a TE (Neale Tweedie) just to shore up the depth at the edges.

These days, the loss of a single body does not drastically impact the defense.

Jones was a two-time, First-Team All-State selection who finished his career with 310 tackles, 27 TFL, 28 sacks, 25 PBU, eight forced fumbles, eight fumble recovers, 30 QB pressures and a blocked punt returned for TD. The District 17-4A MVP helped Kilgore to an 11-2 record in 2005 and will be joined in Austin this summer by teammate TE Britt Mitchell (two-time Honorable Mention All-State selection).

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