Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of thousands of Pirate fans. Call 252.349-3280 for information.




Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Monday, November 5, 2012

By Sammy Batten

Heart, not legacy, swayed Jones to ECU


By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

View the Mobile Alpha version of this page.

Some will assume Isaiah Jones is following in the footsteps of family members by choosing to play football for East Carolina. But in reality, Jones is merely following his heart.

The Austin, Texas, wide receiver made a verbal commitment to the Pirates in early August, soon after visiting with the coaching staff on campus in July. The decision was hardly a surprise considering that Jones' father and uncle are both ex-ECU football stars who helped create the greatest season in school history back in 1991.

Dad, is former Pirate linebacker Robert Jones, a consensus All-American as a senior who concluded his career with 478 tackles. Jones went on to become a first-round National Football League draft pick and won three Super Bowl rings during an 11-year professional career.

Uncle, is the greatest quarterback in ECU history, Jeff Blake. Blake placed seventh in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy as a senior with the Pirates when he passed for 3,073 yards. He, too, went on to NFL success, playing 14 seasons and earning a Pro Bowl nod in 1996.

Both Robert Jones and Jeff Blake were key elements for the 1991 ECU squad that finished 11-1, ranked No. 9 nationally and produced perhaps the most memorable victory in school history — a 37-34 win against N.C. State in the Peach Bowl.

Isaiah Jones has seen highlights and heard stories about that Peach Bowl triumph in which the Pirates rallied from a 17-point deficit in the final 8:41 to beat the Wolfpack.

"I've seen plenty of video, and my Dad talks about the Peach Bowl a lot,'' Isaiah Jones said. "It was the greatest moment of his college career.''

But despite the close connections to ECU, Isaiah Jones said that wasn't a factor in choosing to play for the Pirates over an offer from Arkansas State.

"I didn't make my decision for my Dad or my uncle,'' Isaiah Jones said. "They have obviously been huge influences in my life, but there was no pressure from them to go to East Carolina. This was my decision because I know East Carolina is the best place for me.''

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Jones is only in his second season on the Austin High School varsity. Austin coach Mike Rosenthal, a former Notre Dame and NFL player, said Jones was a late bloomer physically and that left him the shadow of older brother, Cayleb, during the early stages of his prep career. Cayleb Jones is now a freshman wide receiver with the Texas Longhorns.

Isaiah Jones played two seasons on the Austin junior varsity before getting his shot on the varsity a year ago. He burst onto the varsity scene in style with an all-around performance that saw him make 41 catches for 359 yards and three touchdowns, 55 yards and a touchdown rushing, and 278 yards passing. Jones was named the District 15 5-A Newcomer of the Year for his efforts.

"Isaiah has taken an entirely different path than his brother,'' said Rosenthal, who served as Austin's offensive line coach last season before being promoted to head coach in 2012. "As a sophomore, Cayleb was already 6-2, 205 pounds. I think Isaiah was like 5-6 and 140 pounds (at that stage). His body developed a little slower. But then he just shot up. Isaiah is growing into this body right now. I really think in two years they'll be almost identical.''

The Jones brothers helped the Maroons reach the state playoffs last season. But Isaiah has taken a lead role this season as Austin is driving for a second straight post-season appearance. They needed to win at least one of their final two regular-season games to qualify for the playoffs.

Rosenthal has utilized Isaiah Jones all over the field in an effort to get the Maroons back to the playoffs.

"We run a bunch of different things on offense,'' Rosenthal said. "We'll use pro sets, the spread, different things.

"We count on Isaiah as a playmaker. If things bog down (on offense), we'll put him in at quarterback and let him throw and run. We can run him on sweeps, he can return kicks, cover kicks and he's even punted for us some this year, too. We could put him at safety and he'd do a good job there, too.

"Almost every night he is the best player on the field because he makes plays other kids can't.''

Through Austin's first eight games this season, Jones had 28 receptions for 399 yards and six touchdowns, 175 yards rushing on 31 carries, and completed both of his pass attempts for 26 yards and a score.

One of the best outings for Jones this season occurred in the season opener against area power Westwood. Jones was matched up for much of the night against Westwood cornerback Brad Watson, who has accepted a scholarship offer to play for Wake Forest. Although Westwood won the game, Jones caught five passes for 65 yards and two touchdowns in his matchup with Watson.

”Westwood is a good, established program,’’ Rosenthal said. “Isaiah pulled down everything we threw to him. If he didn’t come down with the pass, they called pass interference. The game gave him a really huge boost to perform that way against a Division I athlete.’’

East Carolina began recruiting Jones as a wide receiver last spring, according to Rosenthal. It didn’t take long after Jones visited Greenville in July before a decision was final.

“They gave me a shot when nobody else wanted to look at me,’’ Jones said. “(Head) Coach (Ruffin) McNeill is a great guy and I love the way (offensive coordinator) Coach (Lincoln) Riley runs the offense. The academic environment is great and the fans there are into football. I loved everything about it. I’m excited to be part of the program.’’

Jones said earning early playing time at ECU is important to him. The Pirates will be losing Derrick Harris and Andrew Bodenheimer from their receiving corps after this season, then Reese Wiggins, Lance Ray and Justin Jones depart after 2013, so the opportunity will be present for Jones.

“I think every freshman wants to play early and right away,’’ he said. “But that’s not meant to be for everybody. If it’s not meant for me, I’ll be fine red-shirting. But I’m going to be working hard to earn my shot.’’

Either way, Rosenthal sees a bright future for Isaiah Jones at East Carolina, and beyond.

“It wouldn’t shock me if he became president,’’ Rosenthal said. “That’s just the kind of great kid he is. He’s never going to be a problem. So every success he has will not be a shock to me at all.’’

E-mail Sammy Batten

Sammy Batten's Archives

11/06/2012 06:23:54 AM


©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.