Vaught's Views: Jones 'ready to go'

June 16, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - If Micah Jones needed anything to get him ready for the start of his University of Kentucky football career, he found out this week.

"I have been off the gridiron for several months. This put me right back in the mode to play again," Jones said after finishing a practice here with the Kentucky all-star team that will play at Tennessee Friday. "I'm ready to go again."

He better be.

After a standout prep career at Mayfield that included a state title in 2002, he comes to UK as one of the most highly-touted in-state offensive linemen in years. He's being mentioned a possible starter as a true freshman, a rarity in the Southeastern Conference.

Jones knows his every move in Friday's game will be scrutinized by fans, future teammates and UK coaches.

"I don't feel too much pressure. Actually, I am hyped up for it. I am ready to play the game and show everybody what I can do," Jones said.


While he would like to be able to fill the role as savior of UK football, he knows better. He correctly understands that one player does not make a team and that there is also no guarantee he'll start, or even play, during the 2004 season.

"I am reporting to UK Sunday. That's when it really starts for me," Jones said. "If I am ready to play, I'll play. If I am not, then I will redshirt. I want to do the right thing. I am not going to go out there and get hurt, or hurt the team.

"I would like to play if the need is there. Playing as a freshman would be fine with me if I can help the team."

He knows he must get stronger

Jones says he's been lifting and running since his final prep season ended with a loss to Danville in the Class A playoffs in November. He's bench pressing 335 pounds, but knows he must get stronger and hopes that will happen when he begins workouts at UK next week.

He's also hoping to get with UK line coach Paul Dunn, senior lineman Jason Rollins and other teammates to study film of Kentucky's offense so he'll be familiar with the offense when preseason camp opens in August.

"I need for them to teach me all they know," Jones said. "I'm already wondering about defenses that Tennessee and Georgia play. I've heard defenses are just so fast and that everybody is bigger, stronger and faster. I know I am going to have to bring my A game every play to have a chance to help."

Jones doesn't deny he's had some second thoughts about his college choice since signing with Kentucky. He was close to signing with Tennessee, a team that annually has winning seasons and plays in bowl games. He also turned down numerous other scholarship offers from consistently winning programs to play for Kentucky.

"I am not going to lie to you. I've had second thoughts," Jones said. "Sometimes with the struggles they may have on the offensive line, I have thought about why I didn't choose Tennessee or somewhere else.

"Then I look back and remember they needed the help here. Instead of being around so many other great offensive linemen at another school, I can come here and maybe stand out. That's what I want to do."

He's felt better about his college choice this week

He's felt better about his college choice this week. Future UK teammates Marcus McClinton, Gabe Wallace, Garry Williams, Aaron Miller and Lonnell Dewalt are on the all-star team. He's seen highly-touted running back Rafael Little of South Carolina on campus.

"We all get along well. It is all going to come together. It's going to work out. Kentucky is the future. That's what I think. We can make this thing work," he said.

He's already told UK coach Rich Brooks and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips that he wants to do all he can to convince more blue-chip players to become Wildcats.

"I want to play, but I also want to help them recruit," Jones said. "I have talked that over with coach Phillips. I think it is a good idea for me to talk to recruits. I will do anything I can to help us recruit more great players. I am fine with whatever they need from me to help."

That includes redshirting in 2004 if Brooks and Dunn don't think he's ready to start.

"We are going to do the right thing. If coach Brooks think I need to be redshirted, then I will do that," Jones said. "He's the main reason I'm here. I trust him and whatever he thinks is best for me and the team will be fine with me."

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