INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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THE DEPTH CHART
Star — D’Andre Payne, so., 5-10, 190; Thadd Daniels, jr., 6-1, 205
LS — Kamari Cotton-Moya, jr., 6-1, 200; De’Monte Ruth, so., 5-9, 174
RS — Mike Johnson, Rfr., 5-11, 195; Evrett Edwards, jr., 5-11, 190
LC — Jomal Wiltz, sr., 5-10, 178; Nigel Tribune, sr., 5-11, 195
RC — Brian Peavy, so., 5-9, 190; Jay Jones, sr., 6-3, 210
Others: Mackenro Alexander, jr., 5-11, 205; Arnold Azunna, fr., 5-11, 183, Braxton Lewis, Rfr., 5-11, 185
NEXT MAN IN: Jay Jones as a true cornerback
Jay Jones didn’t make the move from linebacker to cornerback during the coaching change to just play in red zone coverage. Coaches have seen a lot more from him than just that and see potential for him to be a starter and a highly used piece of the defense.
“Jay had a tremendous summer, probably the best of anybody out there,” said cornerbacks coach D.K. McDonald. “He’s really playing with a lot of confidence now and he really looks a lot better from the spring and making that change to even now. He’s really gotten a lot better. I really hope he’s more than just a red zone guy. I’d be really disappointed if that’s all he is for us.”
Jones spent two years at North Carolina State and one at Georgia Military College before joining the Cyclones. He started nine games last year, playing outside linebacker and nickel, and had 49 tackles and seven tackles for loss with six pass breakups.
The size Jones brings to the secondary, 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, stands out amongst the other ISU defensive backs, providing a counter to some of the bigger wide receivers in the Big 12.
“When nobody was looking he was in (the practice facility) working hard and working on his technique and it shows now,” McDonald said. “He’s a lot more comfortable, a lot more confident playing with what the kids call swag. He’s playing with that now, which is cool.”
Out of every position group, Iowa State has its most depth in the secondary and will put seven guys into its mix that haven’t taken a snap in Ames.
Mackenro Alexander and Evrett Edwards have both spent time in Power 5 leagues — as well as D’Andre Payne, who played a year at Tennessee. Alexander — twin brother, Mackensie, is with the Minnesota Vikings — played as a true freshman at Auburn before redshirting and transferring to Northeast Mississippi Community College.
Edwards graduated from Duke in three years and played primarily as a reserve in 25 games, but will have two years to play at Iowa State.
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