Ex-QB from Georgia sees future at U as wide receiver

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 1, 2013 - 6:48 AM

Donovahn Jones passed up five SEC scholarship offers and ventured from his home state of Georgia to Minnesota largely because of the chance to play quarterback.

Gophers freshman Donovahn Jones passed up five SEC scholarship offers and ventured from his home state of Georgia to Minnesota largely because of the chance to play quarterback. Now that he’s a wide receiver, he still thinks he made the right decision.

Jones was a standout quarterback for Dutchtown High School in suburban Atlanta and had offers from Missouri, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Kentucky. They all wanted him to play wide receiver.

The Gophers promised him a shot at quarterback, and it wasn’t bait-and-switch ploy. Jones had built strong relationships with Minnesota’s coaches and knew they might quickly make him a receiver, too.

“They were honest the whole time,” he said.

Jones played quarterback for a few weeks during preseason camp before moving to receiver. Though he has a strong throwing arm, Jones quickly realized how refined the other Gophers quarterbacks — Philip Nelson, Mitch Leidner and Chris Streveler — were as passers.

So Jones said the coaches didn’t need to convince him to move to receiver. That was his preference, too.

Through eight games, Jones has played a limited role in the passing attack, with just one catch for 7 yards. But the Gophers got him more involved in last week’s victory over Nebraska, giving him four rushes on a play known as the jet sweep.

“That’s my favorite play in the whole playbook,” Jones said.

On the jet sweep, Jones lines up at receiver and goes in motion toward the quarterback, who either hands it to him, gives it to the running back or looks to pass.

On Jones’ first three carries he rushed for 13, 11 and 20 yards before Nebraska finally made an adjustment and tackled him for a 2-yard loss.

“We want to get Donovahn involved because he’s a guy who can turn a 20-yard play into an 80-yard touchdown,” Nelson said. “We’ve seen it in practice, and now it’s just a matter of doing it in the games. He’s getting closer and closer every week.”

Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover admits he and the other coaches might have expected too much too soon from Jones.

“I think sometimes when you have a really good athlete, we as coaches try to speed that process up,” Limegrover said. “You almost have to take a step back. He’s a freshman, so even the littlest things are new to him, especially after switching positions.”

Limegrover said he could see Jones “kind of hit a wall,” earlier in the season, trying to digest the things he was learning. So instead of trying to get Jones on the field for 60 plays per game, the Gophers are picking their spots.

“It’s amazing what that has done for his confidence,” Limegrover said. “He’s out there blocking now. He’s jumped into it. He’s made some big catches in practices.”

Jones doesn’t view his switch to wide receiver as temporary. He’s calling it “a permanent move.”

“I don’t want to keep moving around,” he said. “Then I’ll have to wait to learn more plays. So now that I’m here [at receiver], and I’m settled, that’s where I’d like to stay.”

Jones originally committed to Missouri before flipping to Minnesota one day before national signing day in February. For Jones it was a chance to come play for Gophers running back coach Brian Anderson, a close friend of Jones’ father’s from Rockford, Ill., where they both grew up.

Missouri has been one of college football’s biggest surprises this season. The Tigers were ranked No. 5 before losing a heartbreaker last week against South Carolina. Watching Missouri’s success from afar, Jones said he still has no regrets.

“I wouldn’t go back to change anything,” he said. “I’m proud of where I am now.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 4
Houston - WP: T. Sipp 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 1
San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson 10 FINAL
Washington - LP: D. Fister 3
St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 5
Chicago WSox - LP: D. Webb 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 4
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 8 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Stroman 0
Atlanta - WP: D. Hale 3 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: M. Parra 1
Seattle - WP: D. Leone 5 FINAL
Boston - LP: K. Uehara 3
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6 FINAL
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 3
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 8 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 3
Detroit - LP: R. Ray 6 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: R. Pressly 20
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 13 FINAL
Colorado - LP: F. Morales 5
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 1 FINAL
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 5
LA Angels - LP: J. Grilli 3 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Gray 5
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 2 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: D. Haren 6
Carolina 7 FINAL
New England 30
NY Giants 35 FINAL
NY Jets 24
Jacksonville 12 FINAL
Detroit 13
Oakland 21 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Chicago 6 FINAL
Seattle 34
Tampa Bay 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
FC Dallas 2
Montreal 16 FINAL
Winnipeg 24
Toronto 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Chicago 80 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Los Angeles 72 FINAL
Phoenix 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which football team will have the best record in 2014?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close