Clemson, N.C. State and
North Carolina all offered Adrian Jones a scholarship to play cornerback
for their football teams.
Lucky for East Carolina,
Jones prefers wide receiver.
A multi-purpose player at
Scotland High School in Laurinburg, NC, Jones chose to play for ECU
instead of those Atlantic Coast Conference programs because the Pirates
want him as a receiver. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder becomes the 10th
member of the ECU class and is the ninth from an in-state prep program.
ECU running backs coach
Junior Smith reeled in the commitment soon after Jones played what would
be his final game of 2007 on October 19 against rival Richmond County.
Jones fractured a bone in his right foot after making a 7-yard run when
a Richmond player fell on him.
“I had told them way
before my injury I was going to commit to them,’’ Jones said. “I think
they were already counting me as a commit, so when I called to do it
officially they said it was fine with them and everybody was happy.’’
“They were recruiting me
at the position I want to play," Jones added. "Every other school wanted
me as a corner. But they’re recruiting me as a receiver and that’s where
I did my damage in high school.’’
Actually, Jones has
inflicted damage from a number of positions since he started playing the
sport at the recreation level. He was a natural at the sport, taking
after his father, Steve Williams, who starred at Scotland High as a
running back in the 1980's. Williams was also recruited by the Pirates
out of high school, according to Jones, but he never signed.
The game came easy to
Jones when he got started in recreation ball.
“It was something I was
good at immediately because I was fast,’’ Jones said. “I really wasn’t
caught many times when I had the ball in my hands. If I had the ball in
my hands you could usually count it as a touchdown because not many kids
could catch me at that age.’’
Jones gave up football
briefly as he advanced through middle school when he moved to Charlotte
for a time. He returned to Laurinburg for the second semester of his
eighth grade year and the following season earned the job as starting
quarterback for the Scotland High junior varsity.
Moving up to the varsity
as a sophomore, Jones saw his first action as a wide receiver. But he
didn’t move into a prime-time role with the Fighting Scots until the
following season when he shifted back to quarterback to help fill a team
Jones emerged as a dual
threat, passing for 1,050 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing for
another 783 yards and five more scores.
Playing quarterback gave
Jones a chance to display the exceptional speed that would eventually
grab the attention of college recruiters. He’s been timed at 4.4 seconds
in the 40-yard dash and is the defending Mid-Southeastern 4-A Conference
champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Jones’ best times in those
events are 10.59 in the 100 and 21.2 in the 200.
“He’s fast, and he’s not
just small and fast,’’ Scotland coach Mark Barnes said. “He’s about
5-10, but he’s strong in the weight room. I think that’s the thing that
makes him capable of playing so many places.’’
Barnes used Jones at
running back, wide receiver and as a kick returner this season. Despite
the foot injury, Jones still managed to accumulate 667 all-purpose yards
(208 rushing, 139 receiving, 177 kickoff returns and 143 punt returns).
Jones missed four games –
two regular season and two playoff games – due to the injury. He’s now
on the mend, but still on crutches. The cast was removed from his foot
on Monday morning and he’s scheduled to begin rehab in “two or three
The process is probably
going to keep Jones from running track this spring.
“I’m going to try it, but
if they (doctors) don’t allow me I won’t run,’’ he said. “But I do want
to defend my titles.’’
Adrian isn’t the only
Jones who contributed to Scotland’s 10-3 finish this season. His younger
brother, Daeshawn, was a starting cornerback for the Fighting Scots
before being sent to the sidelines himself with a hyper-extended knee.
Also starring for Scotland
this year was linebacker Terrell Manning, who has made a verbal
commitment to N.C. State and wide receiver Wilson McLaurin. Jones said
ECU is also actively recruiting McLaurin, a 6-2, 175-pounder.
“It’d be pretty fun if
they signed both of us because we play well together,’’ Jones said.
Scotland has been a hotbed
of college football talent in recent years, producing Division I-A
signees like defensive ends Travian Robertson (South Carolina) and Byron
McKnight (South Carolina), kicker Jay Wooten (North Carolina),
quarterback Cam Sexton (North Carolina) and defensive end Hilee Taylor
Jones is now part of that
fraternity. He’s scheduled to make his official visit to Greenville
sometime in January and he’ll begin his indoctrination into the ECU
offense at that time.
“I’m excited to get
started,’’ he said. “I really wanted to be a receiver. That’s where my
heart is. So I guess you could say I’m following my heart.’’
thumbnail sketches of other players verbally committed to join ECU's
recruiting class of 2008.]