Jones a two-way star for 2016

Long Beach (Calif.) Poly wide receiver Jackie Jones received a scholarship offer from USC earlier this season after impressing the Trojans coaching staff at the Rising Stars Camp in June.

With a former teammate playing at the D-I level, a current teammate just presented with his Under Armour All-American game jersey and high major scholarship offers in his hand, it might be hard for Jackie Jones to focus on the present. The bright lights of division one football are in Jones’ future, but right now, he’s taking time to enjoy the world around him.

“I try not to look forward to recruiting or going into college because I want to stay focused on high school and football right now because I’m only in 11th grade and I don’t want recruiting to trip me up,” Jones said. “I just try to stay focused on football and school.”

Former Long Beach Poly standout and current USC Trojan Juju Smith was one of the great players to come out of Poly in recent memory. Smith has already seen ample playing time as a freshman for the Trojans and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by Jones. It’s one thing for a true freshman to see playing time, but it’s another story when the freshman starts to succeed. Is Jones surprised by Smith’s fast start to his college career?

“I wouldn’t say surprised because I know JuJu and his work ethic,” said Jones. “He’s going to work until he gets the starting job. If he doesn’t get the starting job, he’s going to keep working and keep working. He’s not going to stop. That guy, he’s hungry.”

Speaking of USC, Jones was recently offered by the Trojans. He’s remained in contact with the coaches for awhile now and when the offer came, it made an impact on the the 5-foot-11, 160-pound defensive back/wide receiver.

“It means a lot, knowing that it’s down the street and that’s one of my schools that I would go to,” Jones said. “Any college I would go to to get a free education, but this is one of the colleges I would (actually) go to. Strong program. JuJu just left here last year, goes there. This is a pretty good program. It was big when I got it.”

There’s no lack of talent on the football field at Poly, especially when it comes to Jones’ teammate Iman Marshall. The five-star cornerback was presented with his Under Armour All-American jersey on Friday morning and Jones was on hand for the ceremony.

“Oh it’s big,” Jones said. “I know all the top guys go to this, this All-American game. Biggie is one of those top guys so I know he’s going to go there and perform… That always gets me excited. I’m really looking forward to going to this game next year. If they invite me, I’m definitely going to go without a doubt.”

The talent level at Poly doesn’t drop off on the sidelines either. Former NFL linebacker Antonio Pierce took over the head coaching duties this year and he’s been invaluable to the team in Jones’ eyes.

“He’s big,” Jones said. “Honestly, without him, I don’t think I would be in the situation that I’m in. He did a lot for me and a lot for this team. Without him, I don’t think a lot of players would be in the positions they’re in.”

Jones is a playmaker on both sides of the ball. He’s shown off his electric speed at the wide receiver position and on the defensive side of the ball thus far, proving to be one of the players to keep an eye on in the 2016 class. However, Jones might prefer one side of the ball than the other.

“People say I’m a receiver, but I like the defensive side better so I can’t really say because really I got all my offers for receiver,” Jones said. “I play both sides of the ball. I’m a football player. I wouldn’t really pick. When I go to college, if they change my position, I’ll play that position just to get on the field.”

His reason for preferring defense over offense?

“I actually like Patrick Peterson,” Jones said. “Defense is just more exciting to me. I can go make the plays. On offense, I feel like plays are just handed to me.”

Poly has a record of 7-1 this year with the one loss coming at the hands of Centennial. Jones is leading the team in receptions, but still feels like he can do more.

“The seasons been going alright,” Jones said. “I know I could do a little better, but I just got to execute on the field. That comes with more practice and dedicating more time to football so that’s going to come.”

On the recruiting front, Jones said he was able to make it out to the Oregon-UCLA game and he was thinking about going to the Colorado-USC game at the time of publishing. He currently holds offers from Boise State, San Jose State, Texas Tech, UCLA and USC.

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