Jones has big cleats to fill
For a receiver, 1,391 yards and 14 touchdowns are statistics far from mediocre. Mike Thomas did exactly this last season for Southern Miss. No. 88’s exciting senior year proved to be nothing less than amatuer. After a season like that, inheriting the number 88 is not a small task. Well for wide receiver Isaiah Jones, one question lingers. Can he be the next Mike Thomas?
Jones was heavily recruited out of high school, racking up nine scholarships. Among those offers were those from Arkansas, Georgia, Louisville, Marshall, Miami and Florida State. Jones decided to take his talents to Tallahassee, FL to become a Seminole.
Jones’ stay at Florida State would be a short one as the 6-foot-4, 201-pound receiver would suffer a foot injury that sidelined him for majority of his freshman year in 2013. Shortly after in 2014, Jones would be ruled academically ineligible. After the 2014 season, Jones would transfer to East Mississippi Community College where he redeemed himself and landed a scholarship with Southern Miss.
While the two receivers have two completely different play styles, the physical attributes are similar. Thomas is 6-foot-1 and 201 pounds with 4.5 speed and a 36-inch vertical. Jones is 6-foot-4 ,201 pounds with 4.6 speed and a 36-inch vertical as well.
On paper, the two can be considered “twins”, with Jones having the upper hand in height. Both have decent speed, but deadly explosion for someone their size when the ball is up for grabs.
Two big parts of Thomas’ game was his ability to go and get the ball and his mixture of upfield speed. Thomas could catch the ball, make a cut and then haul it downfield. Jones on the other hand has the ability to go and catch the ball, but does not have the most effective elusiveness. If faced with an open field, you can add six points to his stat line. While on paper a 4.6 does not seem that fast, Jones makes it look like he runs a 4.4.
The key to Jones’ success this year in the fulfillment of the number 88 will be reliability. Can Jones show up in late-game situations where Southern Miss may have to lean on him? Jones has not had much experience at the Division I level he is playing on now, but he is one gifted receiver. With the camp he had this year, he earned the No. 2 receiver spot and has some gifted individual alongside him with Allenzae Staggers and D.J. Thompson.
Even if Jones cannot produce more yards than Thomas, I feel he can end the year with more touchdowns and be that go-to player for the Golden Eagles.
Regardless of stats, talent-wise, I feel Jones can honor the No. 88 and its prestigious background.