California kid Jones at home with Dragons
A southern California kid, Minnesota State Moorhead freshman Josh Jones made sure to pack a jacket for his first winter this year. The Dragons safety also brought along his blanket-coverage skills. Jones, from Carson, is tied for second in the No...
A southern California kid, Minnesota State Moorhead freshman Josh Jones made sure to pack a jacket for his first winter this year.
The Dragons safety also brought along his blanket-coverage skills.
Jones, from Carson, is tied for second in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with three interceptions this season.
In seven games, he's gone from wide-eyed rookie to defensive team leader.
"He jumped in right away and was in our two-deep rotation from Day 1," MSUM coach Chad Eisele said. "So far I think it has been a great fit for him and a great fit for us."
Jones was not on the Dragons' radar until they hired Damon Tomeo as defensive coordinator in April.
A former recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach at California Lutheran, Tomeo brought a list of about 12 California prospects to MSUM.
It took only one play on a highlight tape to convince Eisele to go after Jones.
On the play, Jones raced across the field to crush a running back near the sideline.
"You rarely see that in high school kids," Tomeo said. "He had no hesitation."
Jones - who said he had offers to walk on at NCAA Division I Arizona State, Nevada and California - was sold on MSUM after his first visit to Moorhead.
His mother, Rene, took a little more time to come around.
Hopes of a Division I future and concerns about the distance from home were the biggest obstacles, Josh Jones said.
Rene attended all of her son's high school games.
Several nights of discussion with Eisele, Tomeo and Josh Jones sealed the deal - along with a promise that the MSUM coaching staff would send Rene tapes of Dragon games a few times this fall.
"She's still on top of things," said Josh Jones, who talks to his mother by telephone once a week. "She's making sure that I am getting my work done."
Jones was named the Dragons' starting strong safety in the second game of the season. He got his first career interception in Week 5.
A week later, Jones had a breakout performance to help MSUM snap a 16-game losing streak.
He blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown and scored on a 64-yard interception return.
"It was something I didn't expect," said Jones, who hasan interception in two consecutive games. "I just wanted to go out and take care of my responsibility and do what I was coached to do. It turned out to have a great result."
Some of Jones' success could be attributed to his comfort in the MSUM lineup. For the first time in his playing career, Jones says he has been calm and composed before games.
He's not even stressed about playing his first cold-weather game later this year.
"I'm excited about it," said Jones, who has never seen snow.
He's also excited about the future of the Dragons.
"We are looking better as a team every week," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562