With players out injured and coaches careful with others, spring football often sees down-the-depth-chart players produce in practice situations.
Those same players don’t always get the chance to produce in games when key players are back and the health scene more settled.
Junior wide receiver Derrick Jones is getting a lot of practice reps right now.
That’s a good thing, because he hasn’t had the benefit of a lot of practice time at receiver. Yes, he was moved to the position early last season, but when the games are coming each week the focus is on getting ready for the next opponent, not about learning an individual position within the Ole Miss offense.
Jones played receiver and on defense at Eupora High School. When focus was on Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell, Laremy Tunsil and others on Signing Day in 2013, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze called Jones the sleeper of the class.
Jones hasn’t really awakened at Ole Miss, and that’s not been entirely his fault. He started out at safety as a freshman but was moved to cornerback where he spent most of the season.
There were high hopes and expectations, but he never really took at the position. He was moved to receiver the second week of last season, his sophomore year.
Now the Rebels have a guy with a ton of athleticism learning the ropes at a position with a lot of talent and competition.
Treadwell describes Jones as a playmaker.
Right now Jones is getting a lot of chances with Treadwell, Cody Core and Markell Pack all unavailable. Those guys will be back in August, though, and some talented freshmen will be on hand as well.
I think Jones is an interesting story and could end up being this year’s break-out guy kind of like Core was a year ago. He could be the kind of guy that really elevates the group.