Sep 24, 2016; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Deshaunte Jones (8) gets the corner for a touchdown against the San Jose State Spartans at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Spartans 44-10. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Deshaunte Jones is a quiet kid — or at least that’s what his teammates say.
Iowa State’s true freshmen aren’t allowed to talk to the media but at this point, there’s no avoiding bringing up Jones’ name to others in the program. He has simply been too good in the Cyclones’ last two games, accounting for five catches, 122 yards and two touchdowns.
So while the former three-star recruit from Cincinnati might be quiet, the hype surrounding his play is pretty much the opposite.
“He’s a very quiet kid,” junior wide receiver Allen Lazard, a pretty quiet guy in his own right, said. “He doesn’t really talk that much. Not very vocal, but he goes out there and works hard everyday and it obviously shows up on Saturdays.”
Jones’ rise as a playmaker has come as no surprise to head coach Matt Campbell. He’s been seeing the skills Iowa State fans are just now seeing for several years. They are the same skills that had Ohio State and Michigan calling after Jones’ junior year of high school.
Jones, a high school quarterback, seemed to be on the verge of becoming big-time. That left Campbell, then the head coach at Toledo, standing on the outside looking in. That was until Campbell took the job as Iowa State’s head coach.
“As soon as we got here we rekindled that relationship,” Campbell said on Monday. “Just trying to see what was going on. I think, at that time, he still was waiting for Ohio State, Michigan and what they were going to do and some decisions. Deshaunte comes from probably one of the top two or three high school football programs in the state of Ohio in Colerain. They had played late into the season, obviously, so that derailed a bit of his recruiting in terms of him getting out to go to some places, which was certainly a benefit to us.”
The Ohio State and Michigan offers never came, so Jones chose Iowa State over Cincinnati, Georgia Tech and Wisconsin. The former four-star recruit (according to Scout) was going to play for Campbell after all.
The playmaking ability became clear the moment Jones stepped on campus in Ames — and so did his quiet demeanor.
“He listens to what you say when you talk to him,” co-quarterback Jacob Park, also a former four-star recruit, said. “He looks in your eyes. He doesn’t talk much. He wants to learn. Those are the kinds of guys you want, especially in college football. Those are the kinds of guys you notice immediately, especially at the wide receiver position. There’s a lot of egos and stuff like that, especially when guys come in and they’re high-profile. I mean, I was guilty of it myself. When you come in as a freshman, you think you know everything. He was the opposite.”
Jones has continued to learn and grow within offensive coordinator Tom Manning’s system. His M-position counterpart, junior Trever Ryen, said the true freshman grasped the system more quickly than he did.
Sure, the kid’s quiet, but he’s a smart football player — even if he isn’t going to let you know about it.
“He’s a very smart kid that works really hard,” Manning said. “We’ve had guys that have played that position before that were high school quarterbacks. They just kind of have a little bit of an innate way to find some space and have a little bit of some instincts there. I also think Deshaunte’s worked really hard, because there’s a lot that goes on at that position.”
His arrival moment came in last Saturday’s win over San Jose State when he burnt his defender for a 49-yard touchdown. He capped the performance with a one-yard touchdown catch late in the game.
Deshaunte Jones is a quiet kid, and fans will have to wait until the spring to hear his voice. That’s fine, he’ll just do his talking on the football field.
“I’ve seen this out of Deshaunte since he got here,” Park said. “I think you guys are just seeing it. I’ve got just as much trust in Deshaunte to do his job as Allen Lazard. To me, he’s a veteran. He makes veteran decisions. He makes veteran moves. He’s a hell of a player and I hope he gets used more often.”