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One-on-One with the Pirates
, August 17, 2010

By Ron Cherubini

Q&A with Justin Jones

By Ron Cherubini
All rights reserved.

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Last year, East Carolina fans knew that Justin Jones would be a dominant inside wide receiver — though no one knew it would take nearly eight games to find out just how dominant he could be. A seemingly insignificant knee injury in fall camp kept him out for the first four weeks and then a wrist injury knocked him out for four more games.

But when Jones returned to the lineup, healthy again, fans could only breath a sigh of relief and wonder what the season might have been had he been available for all of it. In his final two games of 2011, Jones had two touchdowns in each game and gave a glimpse of just how dominating the 6-8 inside wide receiver can be, particularly in the Red Zone where his size mismatch is much more pronounced.

This year, Jones is not only healthy, but he appears to be very motivated to come out of the gates where he left off last season. With a new quarterback under center, Jones will be a welcome security blanket for the guy who must operate the offense. And for Jones, it will be an opportunity to solidify himself as one of the premier big receivers in the league and perhaps nationally.

Justin was kind enough to sit down for a chat with Bonesville to share his insights on the upcoming season.

Justin Jones in action
(ECU SID photo)

One-on-One with Justin Jones

Q: You missed most of last season due to the injuries in fall camp and later when you returned to the line-up. But when you came back, you came back big with four TD catches in two games. How important was it for you to finish that way in regards to this season?

A: You know, it was important coming off the injuries and being able to finish like that, particularly the three TDs in the Marshall game. I had a cast on for that game, so it was a big confidence builder for me. As for this season, I have worked back in and I am very excited for the season. I am still rehabbing and working to fill my role for the team this year.

Q: The receiving corps looks pretty deep particularly at the inside positions, and with Justin Hardy breaking onto the scene last season, do you feel like there will be enough snaps for you both? Are there specific packages in place for the Big Y versus the Y position?

A: There will definitely be enough (snaps) for both of us. We don’t like to think about things in terms of “Big Y” and “Y” because we are both just wide receivers. There are differences, but I work on being a versatile receiver. We rotate without regard to specific packages. We both run all the same plays, so it is not necessarily that I am in or he is in based on specific packages. We do a lot work in practice and between the two of us, we have great experience. We have a good thing going at the “Y.”

Q: Last season, you sort of developed into a top option in the Red Zone. Do you get a little extra boost when you guys get down on the goal line?

A: I am very comfortable in the red zone. I think it is a mentality you have to have when you are down there. Like, 'I can’t be covered.' I think at this level you have to have that attitude in the red zone particularly. We work on it a lot and I pride myself on being able to get it done down there. Obviously, I have a size advantage which we try to take advantage of by creating mismatches and creating space in the red zone. Yeah, I want to be dominant every time I run a route, but it does get pretty exciting down in the red zone.

Q: What player on this team do you most respect and why?

A: Whew, man, that is a tough one to answer because it is hard to say just one guy and I don’t [want] my teammates getting mad at me. Hmmm. OK, I will say Andrew Bodenheimer because of his story — it’s crazy. You know, he came in as a walk-on and I know a lot of walk-ons make it big in programs, but for him, he came in and now he is not only our leader out here, but he is a guy that makes big plays, big catches. He’s not the fastest or biggest guy, but he just makes plays and you have to respect his story.

Q: Coach (Lincoln) Riley was raving about your ability to block out of a more traditional like TE position. Is this something that you have been working on and is a part of the game you enjoy?

A: Yeah, I guess I kind of like (blocking). I think the biggest thing is my mindset now, not just blocking, but overall. I am an upperclassman and I am in my final two seasons and I think my play reflects a different mindset. I am older now. It is sort of like when you are in high school — all the guys here were the best guys on their high school teams. So when you are in high school, you sort of think that whoever the guy lining up against you is, that you are going to drive them to the end zone or drive them out of bounds. In your mind, that is a given. So now, I am at a point here where I know that there isn’t much I haven’t seen from a defender and I know what he is going to try to do, and in my mindset, I know what I have to do and I am confident I can do it regardless of who the defender is.

Q: On the QBs, can you give me a little description on each of the names I give you?

A: Sure. [Rio Johnson:] Rio is always a positive, upbeat guy. His attitude is great and it lifts you up; [Shane Carden:] Man, Shane is a playmaker. He makes things happen out of nothing…its kind of scary how he will be moving all around back there and then make a play; [Brad Wornick:] Brad’s a smart dude, man. He sits back…you know, assesses the situation. He can read defenses really well. He’s, you know, a cerebral guy.

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08/17/2012 09:33 AM


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