By Aaron Swaney Herald Writer
Going into his senior season, Lakewood’s Jerrod Jones was feeling some peer pressure from his friends. They wanted the baseball-focused big man to take his talents to the gridiron and help the Cougar football team.
Good thing he caved.
After just one season of playing high school football, Jones was offered a scholarship to play football for Eastern Washington over the weekend. He’ll sign his National Letter of Intent to play for the Eagles alongside teammate Dustin Stanton at a ceremony at Lakewood High School today at 7 a.m.
“I’m very proud of him,” said Jerrod’s father Brent Jones. “He’s put in a lot of hard work and it’s paid off.”
To see Jones’ highlight film, clickhere
Jones, who hadn’t played football since youth league, was a force for Lakewood up front and caused all kinds of problems for opponents this season from his nose guard position. Jones was named to the All-Cascade Conference first team after helping lead the Cougars to a first-place finish.
“Playing nose guard can go unnoticed by the casual fan, but coaches took notice,” said Lakewood head coach Dan Teeter. “On the film coaches could see how much trouble their centers were having against him. He was just blowing guys off the ball.”
In mid-January Teeter sent out Jones’ film and college recruiters saw the same thing when they watched the film: a 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive lineman with a high motor and good athleticism. Jones is so athletic that the Lakewood staff decided to have him fill in at tight end after Stanton, an Oregon State recruit, was lost for the season.
“You can’t coach size,” Teeter said. “A lot of guys are big, but they don’t have the athleticism and aggressiveness he’s got.”
Besides Eastern, Teeter said Jones received interest from a number of other schools, including Western Oregon and Valparaiso.
Jones had an in-house visit from Eastern offensive coordinator Aaron Best on Jan. 23 and then visited the campus in Cheney the following weekend. While there the Eastern coaching staff offered Jones a scholarship and he made a verbal commitment to play for the Eagles.
“It’s exciting,” Jones said on Monday. “Going to college on an athletic scholarship has always been a dream of mine.”
Teeter said that Jones has some work to do in the weight room and needs to bulk up to play line in college. But due to Jones’ size and raw athletic ability, Teeter said the Eastern staff believes they’ve found a real gem.
“His upside is tremendous,” said Teeter, who believes Jones will likely redshirt his freshman year. “They see him either as an offensive tackle or a one- or three-technique defensive tackle.”
As the season progressed, Jones gained confidence and improved. Beside Teeter, Jones gave credit to assistant coaches Mitch Robbins and William Nelson for helping him learn the ins and outs of being a defensive lineman.
“You could see his confidence soar as the season went along,” said his dad, Brent. “Coach Teeter is an amazing human being. None of this would be possible without Coach Teeter and his staff.”
Jones, who hadn’t played football since youth league, attended Arlington until midway through his junior season. Up until that point he was a baseball player exclusively, but after he transferred to Lakewood most of his friends, like Brandon Stott and Brandon Burbee, were football players and they encouraged him to go out for the football team.
Today he can thank them for playing a part in his future.