15 days! Daniel Jones!
This might sound like a hit piece, but that wasn't my intent. I think Daniel Jones is Northwestern's second-best cornerback, and I want the 5'11, 175-pound junior to succeed this year because Northwestern needs him. But it just so happens that he's been involved in -- and generally, personally responsible for -- an impressive number of disastrous events for somebody who's played only a handful of games at cornerback.
Here's hoping Jones has a strong junior year and erases our memories of a few particularly egregious performances that ended up as depressing Northwestern losses. Northwestern needs him, and although situations where Northwestern's needed him in the past have turned out poorly, it's never too late to start being awesome.
DJ comes from Tallahassee, where he attended a school simply known as "Florida High," which is way, way, way too generic to be real (It's actually called Florida State University School," and yes, the teams are the Seminoles.) He played both ways in high school, which we've seen to be true of pretty much everybody, but what's impressive is that he had almost as many defensive touchdowns -- four -- as offensive ones -- five. His stats weren't gaudy, with seven picks, 20 PBU's, four forced fumbles, and 1,175 all-purpose yards, which, considering his page includes the tidbit that he had a 99-yard kickoff and played four years, isn't a ton. He is, so far as I can tell, the first non-walkon I've seen in this whole rundown to be a consensus two-star recruit, with no sites pitching him a third star. Only ESPN even gave him a top-100 positional ranking, plunking him at 98 amongst corners. His only other FBS offer was from FIU, and he chose Northwestern in November of his senior year.
It has not been pretty. Jones has not played much across his two years, but when he has, he's been inextricably linked to various catastrophes.
After redshirting and playing mostly special teams as a redshirt freshman, Jones was forced into duty late in the season when Jordan Mabin went down with an injury against Michigan State. It did not go well, as Jones was in coverage on B.J. Cunningham for a 33-yard touchdown in the third quarter and a 29-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, as Cunningham finished with six catches for 120 yards. He'd also start the bowl game, when Ryan Tannehill threw for 329 yards.
He'd enter his sophomore year as a backup, behind Nick VanHoose, Quinn Evans, and Demetrius Dugar, but he'd earn a starting spot about midway through the season. He'd again be cast into a bigger role when VanHoose went down against Nebraska. It again did not go well, as that game saw Taylor Martinez -- TAYLOR MARTINEZ!!! -- throw for 342 yards, the best outing of his career not against a Southern Miss team that went 0-12, with three touchdowns and no picks, allowing Nebraska to come back from 12 down in the fourth quarter. Some of this is very much Jones' fault: the second touchdown, an eight-yard pass from Martinez to Taariq Allen, very literally came over Jones in the front corner of the end zone, and on Nebraska's go-ahead drive, Jones fell down while attempting to cover Quincy Enunwa on a 31-yard gain that turned Nebraska's bad field position into great field position. Against Michigan, Devin Gardner chose to pick on Dugar for most of the game, but Jones famously ended up on an island with Roy Roundtree on a Hail Mary pass, he famously deflected it, and Roundtree famously came down with it anyway. Northwestern would beat Michigan State, but he got bowled over by Le'Veon Bell and then juked by Bell en route to a touchdown on the same drive.
I don't blame Jones a ton for this. As a freshman, he was put in an unfortunate situation, and as a sophomore, he was the better CB between Evans, Dugar, and himself. But it's tough to deny that he's had an awfully rough go of things.
Anagram of choice
Discovering the Wildcats' true inner selves through spelling
Daniel Jones, anagrammed, is
Good for Jade! Somebody tell her about this site. It could also be a store that sells jade. The domain name is available! (Also considered: "Jailed neons," which I dunno what them neons did.)
Relevant musical selection
"Still Tippin'," Mike Jones ft. Paul Wall and Slim Thug
The impressive thing isn't that Northwestern has four players named "Jones." It's that ALL FOUR OF THEM ARE IN THE TOP 20 OF UNIFORM NUMBERS YESSSSS TWO MORE CHANCES TO PLAY THIS SONG
Kinda looks like me... pic.twitter.com/Dq5GVGQyWm— Daniel DJ Jones (@QueFine519) July 11, 2013
What do you mean bro that's just a Northwestern cornerback wearing No. 15 who happens to be the same height and weight as you and also from Florida you don't deserve money from it or anything
I'm so sick of eating McDonalds but I'm too lazy to cook. #NClub— Daniel DJ Jones (@QueFine519) August 4, 2013
It's about a 95% chance I will not respond to you from 7am to 10pm for the next 25 days. #CampLife— Daniel DJ Jones (@QueFine519) August 6, 2013
How he can help
Northwestern needs a second cornerback, and everything we know points to Jones being Northwestern's second-best cornerback behind VanHoose. Common sense also stands to reason that Jones, now in his fourth year at Northwestern, is better than he was when forced into various roles earlier in his career. For what it's worth, Nick Medline of Scout thinks Jones has had a great offseason.
Despite everything written here, we see no reason why anybody besides Daniel Jones will be Northwestern's starter at cornerback in 15 days. The other option in my eyes is C.J. Bryant, a sophomore who hasn't shown any obvious superiority over Jones.
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- Rashad Lawrence, Northwestern Wildcats football, No. 17
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