Mike Jones puts on a show when he’s healthy.
The Southern University redshirt junior caught three passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday against Grambling in the Bayou Classic.
Last season against Alabama State, Jones finished with six catches for 211 yards and three touchdowns in place of then-starter Lee Doss.
Jones’ ankle injury has limited him for most of this season, so nearly half of his total 288 receiving yards came during the Bayou Classic.
Wide receivers coach Chris Coleman said the speedy receiver has been patient and humble throughout the recovery process, but Jones said injuries come with playing the sport.
“It’s something that you don’t want to deal with, but it’s part of the game,” Jones said. “Everybody experiences it in football.”
Jones missed a few games and had limited touches in others, but offensive lineman Dewayne Houston started noticing Jones pushing off of his injured ankle more during practices and the entire offense started getting excited about having another offensive threat return to the field.
“He’s finally getting a chance to be healthy,” coach Dawson Odums said. “He has the ability to stretch the ball vertically. He showed up, played well and made some big plays for us. I was excited for him.”
Jones credits his success to Coleman, calling him the best receivers coach he’s ever had. Jones is a sprinter on the Jaguars track team, so Coleman said he can’t take credit for his natural talent.
“He’s always had a skillset that some of these guys don’t have,” Coleman said. “It was simply teaching him how to drop his hips a little better, teaching him a little body control and teaching him how to use his hands to his advantage. He’s a fast learner, so he’s just going out there doing exactly what we thought he could do.”
Jones joins Willie Quinn, Justin Morgan and Reggie Travis in a talented receiving corps. Having too many players to choose from is always a positive for a position coach, Coleman said.
“I got some good guys in my top five, and they can all go out and hurt teams and make them pay for whatever coverage they’re giving us,” Coleman said. “I always say every week, that’s a good problem to have when you have to pick between your top guys to get on the field.”
Odums hired Coleman in 2012, but they’ve known each other since their days attending Crest High School in Cleveland County, North Carolina. Coleman attended North Carolina State before playing professionally for two years. Odums praised the job Coleman has done with his receivers.
“He’s from my hometown he should be good,” Odums said. “Great things come out of our hometown. Coach Coleman was a great player himself. He played in the NFL for a reason, so he’s been able to get the best out of his guys.”
Coleman’s goal is to mentor his players and prepare them for life after Southern.
“I see guys like Lee Doss, who’s now bouncing from team to team as well as RaShaun Allen who now’s got a stick with the Seahawks,” Coleman said. “To see guys fulfill the dreams I once had is more fulfilling than anything. I’m just hoping I’m positively affecting these guys and getting the best out of them.”