FAYETTEVILLE — Jordan Jones believes he’s slotted for success.
Make that unslotted for success.
Always a true widely spread wideout in the pro-style offenses he played at Smackover High School and as a Razorback for former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema last year, Jones in retrospect believes he was expecting to struggle as the slot receiver in coach Chad Morris’ spread offense last spring.
Morris and Joe Craddock immediately saw Jones as one fulfilling the need for speed they believed factored in last season’s 4-8 record that banished Bielema.
Then came spring ball and disappointment.
“We didn’t get what we wanted out of Jordan Jones in the spring,” Craddock commented candidly. “We told him that. We challenged him and we’re hoping with him that light comes on that these guys are counting on me. I’d like for him to be more consistent and we challenged him to see how he responds.”
Morris predicts he’ll make the big plays he made as wideout last year again now that he’s out of the slot and playing as a true wideout.
In the 2017 season finale against Missouri, Jones caught a 57-yard touchdown and a 65-yard pass. Eight time he ran reverses netting 88 yards.
Those big plays seldom flashed last spring.
“I was playing the slot and it was a new position for me” Jones said. “I really wasn’t used to playing the slot because I’ve always been an outside guy. I just wasn’t having as much fun with it as I normally have. I moved back out wide and I was able to get my joy back. Got my fun back and learned the playbook. And I’m ready to go. I play the two outside positions, the 9 and the 2 (the flanker and split end equivalents in a Pro-Style). I’m a lot more at home. In the slot I felt kind of bottled up. I like to run and go deep. I’m kind of fast and I like to showcase that every now and then.”
The spread isn’t entirely new to him.
“We had spread packages (at Smackover) but it was more of a pro-style offense” Jones said. “This offense definitely was a change for lot of us. But I feel as camp goes on and by the time the season starts we’ll get it a lot more than we had in the spring.”
Did he take it personally, the challenge that the coaches presented to him post spring?
“I just felt I was in a spot where I couldn’t showcase my speed or do the things I normally do” Jones said. “I had to block a lot more and stuff like that. I feel definitely going out wide will get me out on the field more and get my mojo back.”
If that’s what it takes to get Jones’ mojo shifting into his highest gear then Morris is all for it.
“Jordan, we have talked about him in depth,” Morris said. “Jordan is a guy we’ve got to find a great fit for him and get the ball in his hands. Jordan really needs to come on and have a great fall camp.”