Gopher Football: Jerry Kill Gets Jeff Jones Into Fold


Jan 1, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Jerry Kill walks to the locker room before the 2015 Citrus Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

When Minnesota Golden Gophers coach Jerry Kill secured the commitment from running back Jeff Jones in February of 2014, it was a big deal. Jones was Mr. Minnesota Football out of Washburn High School that prior fall. The Gophers programs have had (and continue to have) trouble keeping the best players the state has to offer in the state. Jones came out of high school as the 137th ranked player nationally in the ESPN 300 and had received many other offers, including from Wisconsin and Michigan. The Jones signing was a big win for Kill. He locked down the state’s borders and kept the best player at home.

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Some of the excitement of the Jones signing was delayed if not diminished last fall. Jones’ academics were not yet up to par for the University so he was not eligible for the 2014 season. To Jones’ credit, he worked very hard, got his grades up, and now gets to play both school and football.

Offensive Coordinator Matt Limegrover is undoubtedly excited to get Jones into the mix. Here is what he had to say about Jones before the Citrus Bowl, according to Marcus R. Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

"“He’s the kind of kid that there’s an ‘it’ factor for him. The thing that we’re so encouraged about is that he was able to get here. He was able to get into a routine. He has done well academically. He was able to get done what he needs to get done. This thing could’ve easily been taken away and headed down a different path. So I’m excited for him and can’t wait for the other coaches and myself to get him out here and get him going.”"

What has the Gophers and their faithful so excited about Jones is he is a great athlete who is a strong runner, does well in space and has good hands. His hands are good enough that he was even practicing at slot receiver some in practice yesterday:

If Jones is in fact as good as advertised, the Gophers are smart to manufacture various ways to get him on the field. The Gophers offense stepped up in a big way in certain games last season, particularly against Iowa and Purdue, but they will need a more consistent showing from Mitch Leidner and the offense to contend for the Big Ten West title. Having as many weapons as possible will be key.

Kill’s Gophers have made a lot of progress the past four years. Kill and his staff have been able to get their system in place, find players who fit it and grow from there. The next step though, from bowl team to true contender, is a daunting one. To get to the apex of college football, some top-tier athletes are necessary. Players like Jeff Jones are needed in order to make it all the way to the top.

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