NFL prospect rises from the shadows

Some players hide in the shadows behind another big name draft prospect and come out when they are on their own again. Such was the case for one receiver prospect that had to play behind a projected first round pick. Now it is his time.

The first round pick is Mark Clayton of Oklahoma and his teammate Brandon Jones is emerging from the depths of anonymity. It began during Senior Bowl week in Mobile.

"B.J. had a great week," Clayton said of his former teammate. "He has great speed, catches the ball well and had one catch that was really good. In a crowd, he just came out of nowhere and snagged the ball out of the air. I think he has shown the scouts that he is the real thing and can do it at the next level."

The dawn of a new day and Jones is standing off to the side watching the trailing shadow begin to shrink. This time of year is all about Jones and defining the type of player and man he is.

Getting a chance to talk to Hall of Fame wide receiver and San Diego Chargers coach James Lofton defines a week and can be the turning point of a career. A chance to get a little bit of advice from one of the best in the business and perhaps a visit into the future was the reward.

"It is nice," said Jones of his time spent with Lofton. "I like to get advice to see what I have to work on and do better. You get to see it from their eyes and can get a lot of different views and it doesn't hurt to try what a great guy is telling you to do. I like the constructive criticism."

Jones had to play behind the star of the show, waiting patiently to get the casting call and the starring role. He was behind Mark Clayton and the ball was going to his receiving mate.

"I guess you can say I have been in the shadow," Jones agreed. "I doubt if we (along with Clayton) end up on the same team again.

"It is hard but it is not hard. I have to be my own man and work as hard as I can. Work on just being me, working hard. I have been shadowed but it is not a big problem."

And Jones has been in demand. No one would have known about the comedic talents of Jay Leno had it not been for the break Johnnie Carson afforded him.

Those breaks are coming and Senior Bowl week was just the start. He participated in all the drills at the combines and showed speed and athletic ability during the drills. A forty time of 4.40 in front of scouts in Indianapolis had to help.

"I think I did ok," Jones said. "You can always do better. I think I have done well. It has been a good experience."

A former baseball player, Jones has really just begun his football career and nabbed 27 receptions as a senior.

With his nerves going in front of scouts and coaches, Jones had to remind himself to calm down. At times, he admits to being a little zealous with his play.

"Patience. I have to be more patient in routes and on the field," Jones admitted. "Sometimes I get a little overanxious and ready to do something too fast. That is one thing I need to work on."

At just over 6-foot-1, Jones has done a fine job of emerging from the depths of unknown.


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