Keeping up with Jones at Starkville High

Football stockDANNY P. SMITH, Starkville Daily News

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Princeton Jones understands he’s not alone when he steps onto the field each Friday night with the Starkville Yellowjackets.

With the thought of having teammates like Darius Grayer, Raphael Leonard, AJ Brown, Jaquez Horsley and others around him gives Jones the confidence that he doesn’t have to do everything by himself.

Jones has started two games at quarterback as a senior for the Yellowjackets and he has found out real quick who his friends are out on the field.

“I’ve got weapons around me so I don’t have to do a lot,” Jones said. “All I have to do is get them the ball and I know it will be a touchdown. It’s all about execution and if we don’t turn the ball over, this offense is dangerous and we can put more than 28 points on the board in a game.”

Jones has completed 25-of-49 pass attempts for 316 yards in two games with three touchdowns. Grayer, Leonard and Brown have caught one scoring pass each from Jones.

Offensive coordinator Preston Leathers likes to see players like Grayer, who leads the team with 11 catches for 125 yards, step up for Jones.

“We’ve got players that can help (Jones) out,” Leathers said. “He’s done a good job of getting the ball to a lot of places and that will be a good thing.”

After being the quarterback during his 9th grade season, Jones started at receiver during his sophomore and junior years. He moved back to signal caller in the spring following the departure of Gabe Myles.

Leathers said it has been a plus for Jones to have been the 9th grade quarterback and starting receiver for two years. The offense is not strange to him.

“I can’t overemphasize the 9th-grade playing position,” Leathers said. “Combined with the knowledge of the offense in being the 10th and 11th grade starter at receiver, it makes the transition a little easier.

“I’ve been real proud of him. He’s doing a lot of little things well and he’s running our offense. (If you) cut out a couple of sailed footballs, which can happen to anybody, I’ve been extremely happy with the way he’s played so far.”

Jones said being behind center again is starting to “come back to him,” but he knows it’s at another level.

He has thrown four interceptions, so Jones plans to get in a better rhythm to best help the Jackets.

“There’s more that goes into high school football than junior high,” Jones said. “You learn more. Footwork is important and I learned that the first day I came up.”

From spring practice, summer conditioning, preseason practice and now the first two games of the season, Leathers has watched Jones progress nicely.

“He is 20 times more comfortable today than he was the first day of practice,” Leathers said. “(In) changing positions, he was a little nervous the first couple of weeks, but with the little things, he seems way more comfortable. It should get better and better and we’re going to be hard to deal with later on down the road.”

Starkville travels to West Point Friday for its third strong non-conference test in as many weeks.

Each game presents its own little rivalry situation for the Jackets, but Jones considers the Green Wave special.

“We’ve got West Point this week and I’m ready for that one,” Jones said. “I always have been and always will be with it being a rivalry, so you better be ready. They will bring it. We will bring it. Whoever makes the least mistakes will win.”