IN THE HUDDLE: Dontae Jones

While some people have already picked out the running backs they believe will be among the best in the state of Florida for the 2005 season, we would like to offer another one to a growing list of quality runners.

During the spring and into the summer, www.floridakids.us will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.

These are similar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.

Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.

PLAYER: Dontae Jones
POSITION: RB
SCHOOL: Orlando Evans
HEIGHT: 5-11
WEIGHT: 215
SPEED: 4.56
HEAD COACH: Max Percell
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: 224

Here is a classic example of watching film does very little to enhance the total package.

I was scheduled to see the Trojans play during the fourth week of the season, but two hurricanes skirted the area and kept most from traveling to the Orlando area. So, by missing his game, I viewed two tapes, and the didn't do this quality runner justice - at all!

Watching the two films, I really never got the full impact of what he is capable of doing. It didn't show his quickness, strength or ability to lay people out with his tremendous blocking ability.

On a rain-slick field, Jones looked tentative, dropped the ball three times and never really showed off what I had the pleasure of watching recently at a camp, and what he did in front of many at the Jacksonville Scout.com event.

This is a physical, deceptively quick and powerful runner who will have heads turning. As I picked up two more tapes, took them home to view them and talked with coaches and players who competed against him last season, I started to see why this could easily be one of the Florida's emerging stars.

STRENGTHS: Tremendous running instincts. When he gets past the one of scrimmage, he glides along with outstanding field vision and can accelerate quickly to get through a hole.

While Jones is fullback looking in stature because of his solid build and tremendous strength, this is someone who knows how to run the football.

There are some backs who rely on power and agility to get them through a hole, but once in daylight, there are the "fish out of water" we all hear about, Jones has the rare combination of hitting the hole, cutting outside and displays some impressive speed.

There is also a part of his arsenal that most backs, especially at the high school level, haven't mastered, and that's the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

There were two plays I watched when he filtered out of the backfield, drew outside linebacker coverage and totally created a mismatch with his quickness.

WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: While he surprisingly has few weaknesses, he will have to understand that his role at the next level could begin as a third down back, which is a compliment to his ability. Even though it may not be what he wants right away, Jones has to understand that what he does as a situational player will help him down the line.

OVERALL: After playing in just five games last year and chalking up over 700 yards rushing, this is a back, if he stays healthy this coming season, will join the elite in Florida.

When all is said and done, this is one back, maybe not blessed with 4.27 type of speed, but with enough football skills to play at any level!

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: The off season has started to bring more and more attention toward Jones. Schools such as Tennessee, Iowa, North Carolina State and Nebraska have been keeping a close watching. So has his hometown program, the University of Central Florida.

Get IN THE HUDDLE with some more of Florida's emerging stars:
IN THE HUDDLE - DAMON PIFER
IN THE HUDDLE - CHRIS SORCE
IN THE HUDDLE - SHOMARI GRANT
IN THE HUDDLE - DARRELL ROSEMAN
IN THE HUDDLE - JAMES POE
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN ELLIS
IN THE HUDDLE - COURTNEY JONES
IN THE HUDDLE - BRYAN THOMAS
IN THE HUDDLE - JORDAN DALRYMPLE
IN THE HUDDLE - PRESTON PARKER
IN THE HUDDLE - SABBATH JOSEPH
IN THE HUDDLE - PRESTON PARKER
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN KHAWLY
IN THE HUDDLE - REGGIE ODOM

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