Future Impact: Ronald Jones II

Losing Buck Allen to the NFL Saturday, the Trojans go into Texas to reload on tailback talent for next season. The Trojans have three running backs committed in the 2015 class, and Ronald Jones II big play ability and durability makes him a unique asset to Tailback U.

With the commitment of McKinney (Texas) four-star running back Ronald Jones, the Trojans 2015 tailback class takes the form of Ghidorah, the three-headed monster from Godzilla fame.

USC has a steeped tradition running the football, and although the offense has changed under head coach Steve Sarkisian, his commitment to maintaining a physical brand of football has helped the Trojans put together a stellar class of tailbacks.

Jones, 6-feet, 185-pounds, heads the class as the nation’s No. 12 rated running back and the No. 77 player overall in the 2015. Jones joins fellow Texan running back Aca’Cedric Ware and Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany running back Dominic Davis as a Trojan commit.

All three tailbacks have their own unique attributes.

Ware, 6-feet, 200-pounds, rushed for 2,400-yards and 34 touchdowns on 291 carries for Cedar Hill his senior year. Playing at the highest level of competition in Texas, Ware rushed for 157-yards and four scores against nationally ranked Desoto before going for 294-yards against nationally ranked Carroll.

Ware went on to help lead Cedar Hill the to Texas 6A State Championship.

Not to be outdone, Jones rushed for 2,000-yards and 28 touchdowns against Texas 5A competition this season. That followed a tremendous junior campaign that went for 2,400-yards and 39 scores on the ground.

Midlands Recruiting Analyst Gabe Brooks, who covers the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area for Scout, has seen both players develop as top recruits over the past year.

“I think they compliment each other pretty well for USC,” said Brooks. “Ware is a kid that, when you watch him from the press box, he doesn’t look that big.

“He is listed at 5-foot-11, 200-pounds, but you don’t really believe it. When you get down on the field with him, you believe. He has deceptive size. That’s what makes it hard to evaluate him from the press box.”

In fact, after a nationally televised game on ESPN, it was said Ware didn’t have the size to carry the ball 20 times a game. Yet, in nine games Ware rushed the ball 20 times or more, average 8.4 yards a carry.

“He’s a grinder,” said Brook. “He is kind of wiry-strong, and a guy that’s totally a workhorse. You can sorta say that about Ronald Jones too, but Ware really was the go-to guy in that Cedar Hill offense who did a lot of damage in between the tackles.

“And that’s a team that had a quarterback going to LSU, and five-star wide receiver in DeMarkus Lodge and two or three other receivers that are FBS caliber players.

“So I think Ware and Jones really compliment each other. Jones is a bonafide home run hitter. Ware is going to work up the middle and occasional bust one, whereas Jones will bet to the edge and will be a nightmare for defenders at the second level.”

USC currently has two scholarship tailbacks on the roster, losing redshirt junior Javorious Allen to the NFL Draft last Saturday. Sophomore Justin Davis returns, rushing for 600-yards and four touchdowns, as does redshirt junior Tre Madden, who missed last season due to turf toe.

Jone and Ware will enter the tailback competition next fall with Dominic Davis, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound four-star running back. Davis’ most impressive stat may not even be on the football field. As the fastest football player in California, he ran a 10.47 100-meter time at the Mt. SAC Relays last spring.

“Davis is going to be the fastest player on the field in almost every game he plays, so I definitely see a place for that,” said Scout National Recruiting Analyst, Greg Biggins. “I don’t see him being an every down back that carries the ball more than 20 times a game, but he’s a good change of pace guy.

“You can run him six or seven times a game and then get him the ball out of the slot too. He can pretty much score from anywhere on the field, including special teams. He’s that true home run hitter.”

In contrast, Jones, who bolted for a 58-yard score in the Under Armour All-America game this month, runs a 10.63 100-meters, which was a wind aided time.

Still, football fast is football fast.

“Jones is a slasher, and for a guy that can break the big run, he also carried the ball a lot for McKinney North, “said Brooks. “You don’t run for 2,000-yards back-to-back seasons without getting a lot of carries.

“Jones also has to upright running style that reminds me a little of T.J. Yeldon. He doesn’t have quite the height of Yeldon, but for as much as Alabama pounds the ball with him, Yeldon runs pretty straight up and is a slasher.

“That’s how I see Jones. Another thing is, you don’t see guys that are big play threats who have the gait that Jones has. He sort of gallops in his gait. That makes him unique.

“But McKinney North is a spread based, up tempo team and all of his carries come out of the shotgun. So from that standpoint, he’ll transition well with what USC is doing.”

The fact that USC has gone into Texas for two running backs this cycle is also unique. Is it a sign of things to come?

“The kids in the DFW Metroplex all follow each other and take notice when a school like USC comes in and signs guys,” said Brooks. “Getting two players as highly profiled as Jones and Ware is going to creep into the kids of these other -players the next couple of cycles.

“USC may not have been as active in Texas the past few years, but never since they played Texas in the nation title game, that whole era that the kids and players in this state know about.

“It’s hard to pull the top level guys away from this region, but there are certain schools that can do it. You would have to be USC into that discussion.

“The location with it being in Los Angeles and the tradition gets kids’ attention. There’s a swagger that Pete Carroll had going there that a lot of the players really liked. I think it still carries over even today.”

USCFootball.com Top Stories