IN THE HUDDLE: Tanner Jones

Just to the south of Tallahassee, in the city of Crawfordville, there have been several tremendous athletes who have walked the halls of Wakulla High throughout the years. This season, one of its most loyal fans over the past 15 years is now a senior, and you should see what this standout quarterback can do!

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: Tanner Jones
POSITION: QB
SCHOOL: Crawfordville Wakulla
HEIGHT: 6-1
WEIGHT: 190
40 SPEED: 4.8
HEAD COACH: J.D. Jones
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: 218

In the many years I have had the honor to cover high school football in the state of Florida, there have only been a select group of head coaches that I have gotten to know and respect for the way they coach, handle their players and have been able to stand up to the many changes throughout the years.

J.D. Jones of Crawfordville Wakulla has been coaching longer than any current head football coach in the state. His storied career has taken him through four decades, and in that time, he has found a way to produce some quality football talent and young men who have gone on to accomplish some great things away from the athletic field.

There are so many positive things that I can say about Coach Jones and the way he has helped to mold character in his students, players and with his own children. His daughter, considered one of the top high school softball players for years at Wakulla High, has moved on to college, where she is still getting it done.

His son, Tanner, who will be a senior in the fall, is a product of plenty of practices when he was a youngster, throwing the ball with some of the best who wore the red, white and blue uniform for the War Eagles. Now, Tanner Jones is in the same place as some of those greats he watched and shared the sideline with all those years.

Coming off a spring game against Tallahassee Lincoln where he threw for 210 yards and ran for 66 yards in one half, Jones has now established himself as a true prospect for the upcoming season.

For those who watched him against the Trojans, they were impressed with his ability to make plays, his arm strength, his quickness and knack of running the ball when his receivers weren't open.

In three years as a starter for Wakulla, Jones has thrown for 5,154 yards and 49 touchdowns with a 27-9 record, making the second round of the playoffs all three years.

STRENGTHS: Knowledge and being around the sport all of his life. While it never guarantees that it will translate, in this case, with his ability to read defenses and create with his arm, legs and head, he is light years ahead of many his age.

Has a tremendous throwing arm with plenty of zip on his short balls and amazing accuracy on his intermediate to middle range passes. He is a very heady young man who often uses his experience to give him an advantage.

Last year, while viewing two of his game films, I noticed his leadership. He isn't afraid to open his mouth and be assertive in the huddle. College coaches just love to see that.

WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: While throwing an accurate long ball is never the answer, it does become important to stretch a defense and keep them honest. I noticed in three or four balls that he threw over 40 yards, he had a problem being on target, but that is something with work that can be modified or corrected.

The other thing that I saw from watching, like many young quarterbacks, he needs to continue looking off his initial receiver and maybe dump off to a back or use a tight end on a drag play across the middle – just to mix things up.

OVERALL: All colleges are looking for a combination of things when searching out a quarterback to run their offense. One of those things, and perhaps one of the most important, is the ability to get it done in the classroom. His 2.8 grade point average and 19 ACT score only backs that up. The other is experience, which he has plenty of at the high school level.

Jones is also a top-rated catcher and outfielder for the War Eagles' baseball team, which further illustrates his ability to get it done in more than one arena.

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: With summer camps on the horizon, Jones is open for both football and baseball. Schools showing interest in this standout so far have been Memphis University, The Citadel, Florida A&M, Alabama's Troy University, Florida Atlantic and the University of South Florida.

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