SEATTLE — Ty Jones has already secured more than 30 tickets for Washington’s game at Utah on Saturday. At least 15 other people have asked for tickets, too, so he’s working on finding more.
Luckily for Jones, there are only two other players on UW’s roster from Utah, and they’re both true freshmen. That means Jones, whose hometown of Provo is just 45 miles outside of Salt Lake City, has a chance at those extra seats.
It also means he’ll have more fans in Rice-Eccles Stadium than any other Husky.
“It’ll be pretty exciting,” Jones said, “and I’ll probably be a little nervous for the game, as I am every game, but it should be cool to go back.”
Two of the people in attendance will be Jones’ Provo High School head coach, Tony McGeary, and his wife, Brenda. McGeary visited UW during spring ball, but Saturday will be his first time seeing Jones play for the Huskies in person. He’ll also be there to watch another one of his former players, Utah linebacker Chase Hansen.
“We’re just thrilled,” McGeary said by phone on Wednesday. “We’ll be pulling for both kids.”
Coming out of high school, Jones was a four-star recruit considered the No. 5 player in Utah and the No. 34 wide receiver in the country by 247Sports.com. His list of offers included Ohio State, Oregon and Stanford.
He originally committed to Utah in July 2015, but decommitted in March 2016. Two months later, he decided he wanted to come to UW. McGeary remembers UW’s coaches doing the best job recruiting Jones and proving they wanted him.
For Jones, playing the school he nearly attended is always a strange experience.
“It’s definitely weird because I can look to the sideline and see all those coaches that personally recruited me and I was talking to for all those years,” he said. “We’re definitely going to be talking some smack, I’d assume. It’ll be exciting.”
When it came to Jones choosing a school, academics played as big a role as anything else. During the recruiting process, McGeary often told Jones to make sure he did the work investigating each colleges’ academics.
UW head coach Chris Petersen recalled Jones repeatedly bringing up the subject during his recruiting trips.
“Another guy who’s put his money where his mouth is in terms of how he is as a student and how focused and how hard he works here,” Petersen said. “It’s awesome to see.”
Jones said he was impressed with how heavily UW’s coaching staff emphasized life after football. The culture and family environment appealed to him, as did the opportunity to make connections that will help his career.
“He knows in long term that his education is the most important thing,” McGeary said. “When (football) is over, he’ll have his education to fall back on.”
Jones plans to apply to Washington’s business school and then, whenever his playing career ends, enter the commercial real estate field. But before Jones switches paths, he has a promising football career in front of him, one that could potentially stretch beyond college.
After playing in 11 games as a true freshman, Jones is off to a solid start as a sophomore. He caught three passes for 77 yards against Auburn and had four receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns against North Dakota.
“Sky’s the limit,” McGeary said. “He’s got a lot of upside. If he has that dedication and desire to go to the next level, I think he’ll certainly be able to attain it. At the same time, he’s not banking on that insofar as he’s taking whole advantage of the academics.”
Jones said he feels more comfortable with the offense this season, which has allowed him to loosen up and concentrate on making plays. He’s been making steady progress, said Petersen, who also praised Jones’ business-like attitude in practice.
“He’s got a great vibe to him at all times,” Petersen said. “He just really, really cares. … He’s still figuring out how to use all these techniques and all these type of things. He’s getting bigger and stronger and faster.
“So, it’s exciting, because he’s going to continue to get better and he’s going to do that because of how he approaches his day.”
That’s not a surprise to McGeary, who knows Jones is often the first one to arrive at practice and the last one to leave. When players are that talented in high school, McGeary said, they often don’t want to put in the work.
That was never an issue with Jones.
“He continued to work on the things he needed to work on to improve and get better each week,” McGeary said. “We could see steady progress ever since he was a sophomore to a senior. Each year, he’s willing to work on the things he needed to do.”