Former UK quarterback says his son has high ceiling

Published 7:05 am Thursday, October 13, 2022

LARRY VAUGHT

Contributing columnist

Pookie Jones of Calloway County was not only Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 1989, but he also led Kentucky to the 1983 Peach Bowl and was fourth all-time in total offense at the time he graduated. He later played three years of minor league baseball before spending time in the Canadian Football League.

Now his son, Jacob, a senior quarterback at West Jessamine High School, is having a Mr. Football-worthy season.

“Jacob rushed for more yards in five games than I did in a whole season when I won Mr. Football,” Pookie Jones said. “He’s trying to be what could be the first quarterback (in Kentucky) to run for over 2,000 yards and throw for over 2,000 in the same season.”

It could easily happen. Going into Friday night’s game at Madison Southern, Jacob Jones has rushed 142 times for 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns in seven games. He has completed 105 of 170 for 1,689 yards and 20 touchdowns with two interceptions. He’s averaging 195 yards rushing per game and 241 yards passing and with three regular-season games and at least one playoff game left, he could easily surpass 2,000 yards in both areas.

“If he is not a top five kid in the state, I have not seen one,” said Woodford County coach Dennis Johnson, another former Mr. Football and UK star who played in the NFL.

In a 77-35 loss to Woodford, Jones completed 14 of 24 passes for 242 yards and four touchdowns and ran 22 times for 139 yards and one score. He had a 77-yard scoring pass and 79-yard scoring run.

“He makes plays with his feet and throws the ball great,” Johnson said. “If he played for (Frederick) Douglass, St. X or Trinity, he would be seen as one of the best kids in the state. What he adds to that team and brings individually is unreal.

“I look at what he is doing, and he’s definitely a top five guy in the state. He’s got the stats, speed and arm talent. He even played defense against us and did a good job.”

Yet the 6-2, 201-pound West Jessamine senior has only two Division I scholarship offers — Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky. He got an early offer from UK but Pookie Jones senses the Wildcats have backed off.

“When I won Mr. Football, I only had a handful of offers but felt I was the best quarterback in the state,” Pookie Jones said. “The best player on the field should win Mr. Football based on the numbers he has on the field.

“He is 20 pounds heavier than last year. He dropped his 40 (yard dash) time from 4.7 (seconds) to 4.4. He’s only 17 and is a late bloomer. He still has a lot of growth potential when he gets to college.

“I think what happens now is college coaches just don’t get out as much (to see players). If you are a 2023 recruit, they (college coaches) already have got who they want picked. But they are missing out on a pretty good quarterback. Some kids don’t get better until they get a little older.”

Jacob Jones threw for 1,720 yards and 17 scores in 2021 and ran for 682 yards and 16 more touchdowns. He joined the track team to improve his speed and running style and Pookie Jones says his son believes he can get his time down to 4.3 seconds.

Pookie Jones has tried to get his son’s name out to more college coaches. Jacob Jones has sent his highlight videos to college coaches.

Johnson says college coaches sometimes underestimate players because of a team’s record. West Jessamine currently is 3-4 after finishing 5-6 in 2021.

“I have one or two really good players who are not getting recruited like I think they should,” Johnson said. “I think he is a real talent. He is 100 percent a Division I guy. He can command an offense. He had a huge performance against us and I have some pretty good dudes he controlled. He is very elusive and hard to tackle.”

Jacob Jones only played flag football until seventh grade because his father wanted to make sure his body was ready for tackle football.

“He has so much pressure on him but is still new at his position,” Pookie Jones said. “Coaches tell me he’s not the same player he was last year and I know he can still get better.

“I am trying to get (UK recruiting coordinator) Vince (Marrow) to come out and watch him. He’s just different when you see him in person on the field.”

Pookie Jones says one of his son’s favorite players is Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who did not have a ton of college offers when he came to Louisville and won the Heisman Trophy.

“I just want him to go to a place where he is wanted and has the best opportunity to succeed,” Pookie Jones said. “Whoever gets him will get a good kid and good quarterback. I know as his dad I am biased, but he really is a special player and better than I ever was.”