The dice are rolling in Lexington with Kentucky landing three-star offensive lineman Joshua Jones out of Phenix City, Alabama. The small town is located right on the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama-Georgia state line and produces FBS talent quite frequently. Jones had a ton of interest from some big time schools and in the end decided to pick Kentucky over LSU. Also included on his list were Florida State, Ole Miss, and Tennessee. The 6-foot-5 and 298-pound offensive line prospect is absolutely a fit for what John Schlarman likes to have on the interior.
Joshua Jones plays right tackle for his Phenix City Central team, but it’s expected that Kentucky will move him to guard when he gets to Lexington. When at the college level, UK’s scheme will call on the Jones to move around and pull to pick up play side linebackers on power run plays. Here he shows a little bit of the required athletic ability.
On this counter play, the running back appears to move too fast on the hesitation fake and that puts Jones in a bad spot. The big guy gets to the run blitzing linebacker and delivers a punishing blow that puts the defender into the dirt. The play is, for the most part, blown up but you see the physical strength and power that Jones possesses.
Evaluating high school offensive linemen can be very difficult due to the fact that when they are playing football with pads against defensive players that are much, much smaller. For any high school lineman that is around 300 pounds that is going to be the case and Jones is no different. When watching them it is important to look for motor, technique, and leg drive. Jones shows some of those skills on this play.
Jones loses the battle at the beginning of the play due to hand placement. The right tackle is beat to the point of attack by the defensive end and is at first knocked back. Due to this, his hands go outside and this immediately gives the defensive player the advantage. However, that happens some and any good offensive lineman must have quality recovery skills. Jones flashes those behind some brute force. Once he is locked on with his hands it is hard for the defender to break away and create separation. Once the defender tries to get outside, Jones buries him with leg drive. He’s got some issues to iron out, but the big guy has some tools that are hard to teach.
You want power? He’s got power.
It’s pretty easy to see why UK’s staff was so enamored with Joshua Jones. He’s an athletic kid who will easily play at around 320 pounds in college. Add that solid weight on to his 6-foot-5 frame and he physically looks like a really good SEC offensive lineman. Despite playing strictly tackle in high school, he’s a scheme fit for what Kentucky likes in offensive guards. Derrick LeBlanc was his primary recruiter and this was his biggest recruiting win since joining the staff prior to the 2017 season.
Kentucky has shown they are not afraid to have tall guards and there have been many projected tackles (Luke Fortner, Logan Stenberg, Mason Wolfe) who have turned into full-time guards once they get on campus. Jones has some next level power in run blocking and is doing it all without great technique. Once he gets some seasoning and is able to play out of a three-point stance at Kentucky, that physicality should become even more powerful. He’ll have a lot to prove in pass protection, but he is exactly what UK wants in an offensive guard prospect. This was a very solid deep south recruiting win for Kentucky and it feels like the Wildcats are on their way to an excellent offensive line haul.
Who will be the next to join the 2020 class?