UTSA fans keeping up with Edna's Jones

Nov. 30, 2011 at 5:30 a.m.

SAN ANTONIO -- The Texas-San Antonio football team set an NCAA attendance record for a start-up football program.

It would not be too much of a stretch to suggest a good portion of the 213,126 fans who came to the Alamodome were there to watch Kam Jones.

From the time he became the first UTSA player to touch the ball while returning the season-opening kickoff for 37 yards in a 31-3 win over Northeastern State, to his 22-yard touchdown run in the season-ending 49-7 win over Minot State, Jones gave Roadrunners fans a glimpse of what those who followed Edna witnessed during his high school career.

"It was mostly like what I expected," Jones said of UTSA's inaugural season, which ended with a 4-6 record. "I knew we were going to come in and lose a couple of games because that's part of being young and growing. That's part of a brand new program and you've just got to learn from it."

Jones had a prep course of sorts last year when he spent his true freshman year working out with his teammates as the Roadrunners prepared for their first season of competition as a Football Championship Subdivision independent.

"I think it helped," Jones said. "That whole year of just practicing was like just learning college football. At first, it was tough just coming out and practicing without a game, beating up on the defense and them beating up on us. It was a tough struggle, but now that we finally got a season out of the way, it was well worth it."

Jones had planned to play at Virginia, but changed his mind after UTSA coach Larry Coker offered him a scholarship.

"He was a late signee for us," Coker said. "Victor Rodriguez (from Edna) is kind of an icon here in San Antonio. Mr Rodriguez had his book and we had lunch together and he asked about Kam Jones. I saw him play in a playoff game and said we'd look into him.

"We were kind of late in the picture, but fortunately for us we were able to get Kam here and he's been just terrific. He's been kind of a veteran for us. You think veteran, you think old guys and he's been here a year."

Jones played quarterback at Edna, but moved to wide receiver at the suggestion of UTSA offensive coordinator Travis Bush. He also took snaps in the Wildcat formation, returned kicks and played on the kickoff team.

"Last fall coach Bush and I had talked about it and he said I had a better chance of playing at wide receiver," Jones said. "He knew the offense. I was barely coming out and didn't know anything. We talked it out and I went with it and it worked out fine. I'm proud of my success. I'm proud of the whole offense's success and I'm proud to be a Roadrunner."

Jones led the team in receiving with 39 catches for 578 yards and two touchdowns, and all-purpose yards with 881.

"Kam did a lot of things for us," Coker said. "He can be a quarterback, he can be a wide receiver, he can start in the secondary. He's a major threat. I told Kam this. You watch a Barry Sanders and you watch guys like that practice and how exciting they are and Kam's that type of player. You don't have to be very bright to see him do some things. I've seen him do so much."

Jones is willing to do whatever it takes for UTSA to be successful when it moves to the Western Athletic Conference next season.

"We lost some games, some close games. But coach Coker preached to us that he's kind of glad that we lost some of those games because that's how we learn. He said if we won some of those games, we probably wouldn't be as good of a team as we are now. We learned from those losses.

"We'll be ready," he added. "This game is going to set the tone for the next offseason. We're going to go in and just get ready for the WAC."

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.



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