There are just 16 days until Gopher football returns. For my money, the most intriguing player on the roster wears 16, Jeff Jones.
Minnesota fans are well acquainted with the Jeff Jones story, so I will keep the recap brief. Jones was a consensus 4 star running back, who shined in the UA All American Game, garnering late offers from Florida and MIchigan. He chose to honor his commitment to the University of Minnesota and stay home to play college football. Unfortunately, he had some academic issues that led him to being able to enroll at the University, but not play for the football team. It takes character to succeed through adversity, and to stay at a program when he likely could have gone elsewhere and played-the JuCo route.
When he signed, Matt wrote the following:
Jones is an immediate impact player. The Under Armour All-American MVP is a potent blend of a great frame, power, foot quickness, vision and open field ability. Jones can make even the best athletes in the nation look silly one-on-one. Jeff should thrive as the feature back in Limegrover's zone running scheme that loves to pound the rock.
#WellActually. This year, despite being the top running back recruit in the Jerry Kill era, Jones is slated to play slot receiver. Jones certainly has no problem catching passes out of the backfield, and has performed well during spring and fall camp, but there are reasonable questions about how well he will transition to wideout, and whether this transition is permanent. Rodrick Williams will start there and Kill has never been particularly keen on rotating backs while at the U. Even if he does, Rodney Smith and Berkley Edwards are next up on the depth chart.
Playing at receiver does not exclude Jones from taking handoffs. He may be a prime candidate for the jet sweep, and if he lives up to the hype could even be a Percy Harvin type player. How he gets on the field, and how Limegrover uses him in the offense will be an intriguing story line through the season.