• Columbia receiver TJ Jones lines up to run a play during Monday’s practice. Jones, armed with 34 collegiate offers,  expects to get defensive backs’ best shot this upcoming season (JORDAN KROEGER/Lake City Reporter).
    Columbia receiver TJ Jones lines up to run a play during Monday’s practice. Jones, armed with 34 collegiate offers, expects to get defensive backs’ best shot this upcoming season (JORDAN KROEGER/Lake City Reporter).

PREP FOOTBALL: Jones expects to be target of defenses

Columbia’s receiver ready for teams to key on him this season.

If teams didn’t know about Columbia receiver TJ Jones last year, they certainly will now.

Highly touted recruits don’t go unnoticed on the football field and opposing defense will surely key on Jones, who has 34 offers and it rated as a four-star prospect.

Jones doesn’t expect any less. He knows he’ll have a target on his back in his senior year.

And Jones is ready for it. He’s even started to notice it in scrimmages this summer, including at the Valdosta State camp earlier in July.

“Even at camp, once they realized who I was other coaches were putting their best guys on me to keep me contained,” Jones said. “But I’m here for it. I’m ready for it.”

With all the talk surrounding the young wideout, teams will certainly target Jones and attempt to shut him down every Friday. Opposing cornerbacks will likely savor the opportunity to go against him, not only to shut down a top recruit, but to also make a name for themselves in front of college coaches who will likely be on the sidelines to watch Jones.

Columbia head coach Brian Allen says that provides a lot of motivation for opponents, which in turn is only motivating Jones to never let his guard down.

“You get the best out of that player that’s covering you every night because for that player it’s an opportunity where ‘if I lock TJ Jones down then I’m going to have people that are going to want to recruit me for the sheer fact that Jones is a top-rated player,’ ” Allen said. “I think it gives you the best from the teams you play and you should want that as a player. You want to get someone’s best every Friday night because it’s going to make you in turn play your best as well. I don’t know if it’s so much a target or if someone’s out to get you per se but it’s definitely a deal where you’re going to get the best out of the guys that you’re playing against.”

It wasn’t until after the new year that most of Jones’s offers started rolling in following a stellar junior campaign as Columbia’s top receiver. The noise surrounding him has only grown louder since the calendar turned to 2018 — he’s received 31 of his 34 offers since Feb. 6.

Jones is a now known commodity across the state and he expects get every defensive back’s best shot every Friday night.

“Last year teams were just realizing that I had talent but this year they’re going to really get on me,” Jones said.

But Allen thinks Jones will handle it well. He doesn’t really have a choice — colleges are expecting to see the best from him every night to back up their offers.

That especially goes against highly-rated cornerbacks he faces this season and talented teams across Columbia’s schedule will provide the challenge for Jones.

“At the end of the day, guys that have that competitive greatness are going to play the best when their best is required so I think he’s going to handle it well,” Allen said. “If we have a top defensive back that we’re playing on a Friday, (Jones) should go out there and torch him because if he’s supposed to be one of the best and (Jones) is supposed to be one of the best then (Jones) has to go out there and be able to have a great night. some of the things I try to talk to him about, that every time there is somebody who has numbers or is hyped up with stars, his goal is to go out there and embarrass him so I expect to see a lot of that from him.”

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