In order to keep up with the Joneses in college football, new Temple football head coach Geoff Collins went out and got one.
One of the themes of Collins’ Signing Day press conference was an emphasis on the players that were already at Temple and filling in any holes that he might have come across in film study in the month after his introductory press conference.
With the signing of Mike Jones, the Owls filled a huge hole and his meshing with the team will be something to look at from now until Cherry and White Day, hopefully held at the new soccer complex. (No announcement yet, but the 2,000 additional seats there would make it a no-brainer.)
Maybe Collins killed two holes with one new bird, because the Owls needed a starting cornerback opposite last year’s starter, Artrel Foster, and a game-breaking punt returner (for years ) and Jones seems to be the perfect guy to do both jobs.
While the class Collins
reeled in might have
been the weakest of
the post Bobby Wallace
Era, an argument can be
made that, in Jones,
the Owls might have signed
the single best talent
of any of their recent classes
While the class Collins reeled in might have been the weakest of the post Bobby Wallace Era, an argument can be made that, in Jones, the Owls might have signed the single best talent of any of their recent classes. (The only other player of his stature would have been Montel Harris, but that came at a time where the Owls were not expected to contend for anything. These Owls are.)
Also, what have the Owls lacked since Delano Green? A a guy who could flip the field on any given punt. The Owls went through one year where they gave up the punt as an offensive play when they used a possession receiver, John Christopher, to essentially fair catch the ball. He averaged a whopping 2.0 yards per return. Since then, they have been using starting DBs as punt returners for the last two seasons, so don’t expect Collins—whose philosophy is very similar to former head coach Matt Rhule–to ask Jones to back away from that challenge.
Jones also seems to be the most talented punt returner to come to Temple since Positive Man Green did the job in the Al Golden Era. On November 10, Jones returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in a win over one-time Temple foe Delaware State. His return was the second-longest in NCCU history. That was not the only time Jones starred in a win over a former Temple foe, as, in 2013, he had two interceptions in a 40-13 win over Charlotte.
If you can flip the field with a dynamite punt returner, and Jones certainly is that, you give your team another great offensive play. On defense, he is a lock-down corner who ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay said: “Mike Jones stands out to me as the best” of a list of late round draft choices. That was for this draft, in Philadelphia, in the spring of 2017. As it turns out, Jones will be in Philadelphia in the spring of 2017, but the reason will be to play football in order to move a few spots up the draft board.
Jones is doing a very smart thing by coming to Philadelphia, not for the draft but to show his talents as early as nationally televised game at Notre Dame in September. If Jones picks off a pair and takes one to the house, he will get noticed on a stage much larger than he has ever acted before.
Making impact plays against Notre Dame before a NBC television audience could be a perfect way to start a memorable final season.
Wednesday: Translating Signing Day