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.
Independence nearly matc ... »
| || |
AMES — It was 9 p.m. on a Friday night when Iowa State wide receivers coach Bryan Gasser heard something in the Bergstrom Football Complex.
Gasser was just returning from a recruiting function when he heard a noise coming from the field inside the practice facility. The lights were off and he had to get a little closer to see what was happening.
The sound was sophomore wide receiver Deshaunte Jones and sophomore running back David Montgomery, who were catching footballs from the jugs machine.
That’s the way they’ve always been — putting in overtime.
“I think the little things like that separate you from everybody else and me and David, we’re from the same city and stuff like that, we grew up together and we’ve been doing that our whole lives,” Jones said. “It’s basically normal to us.”
“He’s just a kid that goes, goes, goes,” Gasser said of Jones. “It’s his passion.”
Jones made it a priority to be a contributor right away, and saw the fruits of his labor pay off last fall. He played in all 12 games as a freshman and started four. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound slot receiver was second on the team in receptions (37), receiving yards (536), touchdown catches (6) and had two multi-touchdown games.
During the Baylor game, his fifth in college, things started to click for Jones — he had four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.
“I was just like, ‘Wow,’” said senior wide receiver Allen Lazard. “I realized he was going to be really good. He always showed flashes throughout camp and the first two, three games or whatever, but one of those catches he had versus Baylor was when my eyes opened.
“Seeing what he finished as at the end of last year to now is that he’s still growing and he still has a lot of room to grow, which is great for him because he has a lot of potential left.”
Like Montgomery, Jones was a quarterback in high school who was a do-it-all type of player. He was a finalist for Ohio’s Mr. Football Award and rushed for 1,860 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior while orchestrating a triple-option offense.
When he got to Iowa State, Jones had to make the transition to wide receiver — a position he hadn’t played in either of the last two years. Learning concepts was a work in progress, but his experience as a quarterback gave him a more expansive base than a typical freshman.
“Being the quarterback you have to know literally everything on the field and know what everybody is doing, so I didn’t have a problem or issues with the plays or whatever, but just more the route concepts,” Jones said. “Coming from quarterback you have to know the play and I’ve been learning plays all my life.”
Jones has size all around him at wide receiver — 6-foot-5 Lazard, 6-foot-6 Hakeem Butler and 6-foot-4 Matt Eaton — but is an essential compliment to the outside guys. His speed sets him apart and his experience as a 19-year-old playing in the Big 12 is invaluable.
“I think (Jones) will continue to develop,” Gasser said. “He’s still raw on some things and certainly produced last fall, but he’s a guy that takes coaching really well.
“He’s a guy that tries to perfect his craft and I think you’ll see a better Deshaunte Jones this fall than you saw last fall.”
l Comments: email@example.com