Hayden Jones is fast (runs a 4.46-second 40-yard dash).
Hayden Jones has good hands (caught 48 passes this season).
Hayden Jones is versatile (kicks, punts, plays Wildcat QB, plays DB).
Hayden Jones isn’t big (5-foot-11, 181 pounds).
Hayden Jones has numerous college offers (Actually, he does not).
But he does have one. Finally.
The Lake Highland Prep wide receiver, one of the better pass catchers in Central Florida, has his first NCAA Division I-A college scholarship offer after Army served him with an invite this past weekend.
“They called me a couple of weeks before that to say they were going to fully offer me and that they were interested in me,” Jones said. “Then they told me they’d call me back with some more information. Then they finally said, ‘Well, you got a full offer and we want to get you up here.’ ”
Heading to West Point, N.Y., isn’t exactly like enrolling in most other institutions of higher education. There is plenty involved in getting things in order for a foray into a military academy.
“You definitely have to be mentally prepared. It’s a lot different than a normal college,” Jones said. “You definitely have to be ready to go into the service, but I’ve been working hard since the season ended and getting ready for college.”
Jones will be back on the field tonight playing in the Orange County Metro All-Star Classic (6:30 p.m., Oak Ridge High School.
“It’s definitely a great honor,” Jones said. “I was also actually the district player of the year this year too. So that’s all good.”
Jones is hoping his first offer will open the doors to others in the near future. Once a player gets his first offer, it is usually a good bet somebody is willing to take another look at the player just to see what the other NCAA school sees in the player.
“I’m definitely interested and looking into going up there for a visit” Jones said of Army. “But I’m looking for other offers too . I guess some other schools were hesitant on offering me for whatever reason, but I got one and I’m hoping other schools will finally start offering me.”
The Highlanders went into the season with big-time expectations, but as usual, injuries hit LHP again. Highly touted seniors like Jones, Ty Law, Taylor Barton, Ellis Marder and David Jean. Couple that with a talented mix of underclassmen like Stokes, B.J. Harris, Mikey Dorcely, Evan Jager and Casey Irish and there was no reason for Lake Highland fans to not have big plans for this month.
But the Highlanders suffered some injuries along the way, ran into a few juggernatus like Tampa Berkley Prep and Cocoa, and just had one of those seasons where little things did not work in their favor. The result a 4-6 record and a first-round playoff loss at Fort Myers Dunbar.
While all that was going on, Jones had to watch offers roll into for his teammates. S Barton hooked up with Illinois, CB Marder has committed to UConn, OL Blake Fromang is headed to Vanderbilt, ATH Law has a four offers, and that left Jones and ATH David Jean, who broke two bones in his leg during the season.
"We just have to wait and see what happens from here," Jones said. Heck, he's used to that already.
Jones, whose father Darrell Jones was a receiver at the University of Florida in 1979, earned the Class 4A, District 11 player of the year this season. He will be hoping to put on somewhat of a show tonight on the all-star stage of the Metro game. He says he’s ready.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com.