Jones in game mode
By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector
Thursday, August 25, 2016
For Zay Jones, there is not nearly as much left to learn as there is to perfect.
Already one of the more accomplished wide receivers in East Carolina football history, the senior has had plenty of time to adjust to a new coaching staff, and just as much time to imagine what his final collegiate season holds.
He is in game mode, and he will not likely be out of it until after the holidays.
With a mere matter of days separating Jones and the final season kickoff of his college career, part of the anticipation process is checking and rechecking all of the minute details. It’s not just about football either.
“I’m in the fine-tuning stage of my collegiate career as a whole,” said Jones, an Austin, Texas, native who can join former teammate Justin Hardy as a consecutive 1,000-yard receiver with a big final campaign. “I’m just taking everything in and I’m enjoying every stage of it. I’m enjoying this process. You can always improve, always get better. You’ve always got to critique yourself, and I consider myself to be my harshest critic, so day in and day out, I try to find ways to improve my game.”
For players like Jones, who this year shifted to the outside from his previous slot position, improvement itself is a pretty fine process after his considerable accomplishments. The preseason first-team all-American Athletic Conference performer is coming off a season that featured 98 receptions for 1,099 yards and five touchdowns.
Now Jones will be counted on to be a game-breaker in new ways, and along with weapons like junior Trevon Brown back in the pass game, he is brimming with confidence about the many ways in which the Pirates can put defenses in peril.
“We’re straight ballers all across the board,” Jones said of the ECU receivers, which also include seniors Jimmy Williams and Davon Grayson and sophomore Terrell Green on the outside, and junior Quay Johnson and senior James Summers on the inside. “We’re lethal weapons. We’ve got guys that can just make plays.
“I’m just so grateful and blessed to lead this pack.”
Without question, Jones and most of the veteran ECU players have long since put their focus on Western Carolina, the Pirates’ season-opening opponent on Sept. 3.
Regardless of who would have lined up across from him first, however, Jones already has a one-track mind when it comes to his immediate future.
“Now we’re in that game week, that game mode, so we’re detailing everything and we’re going to keep on tightening those screws and focusing on Western,” he said.
Contact Nathan Summers firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9595 or follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.