With the loss of three of the Vols’ four scholarship quarterbacks this past year, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones knew that it was of paramount importance to recruit well at the quarterback position heading into the 2015 season. Not only did Jones and the Tennessee coaching staff rise to the challenge, they landed arguably the top class of freshman quarterbacks in the entire nation for 2015. This group is comprised of three consensus 4-star recruits - Jauan Jennings, Quinten Dormady and Sheriron Jones. In the third and final installment of a three-part series featuring each of the freshman quarterbacks, here is a closer look at Sheriron Jones.
Sheriron Jones (pronounced Sher-Ron), a 4-star product out of Moreno Valley California’s Rancho Verde High School, was ranked as the No. 7 composite dual-threat quarterback in America per 247 Sports. A celebrated high school career, in addition to top-flight camp performances, would earn Jones a spot as a finalist in the famed Elite 11 quarterback competition. A distinguished honor, especially considering that only the best of the best high school quarterbacks are invited to the premier event, and only 18 quarterbacks nationwide advance to the finals each year. Jones’ stellar play would also earn him a trip to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American game and a spot on the Cal-Hi Sports California All-State team.
A one-time Florida Gator commit, Jones had a change of heart following the firing of Will Muschamp last December. He would ultimately sign with a Vols team in January that already had two highly touted freshman quarterbacks on campus, proving that Jones is definitely not one to shy away from competition.
While we have yet to see Jones play at the collegiate level, his high school film and scouting report lend credence to him being labeled as a quintessential dual-threat quarterback. Jones combines a solid repertoire of passing skills with a more than adequate skill set as a runner.
Jones’ first instinct is to stay in the pocket and throw the football in most instances, but he is quite capable of making plays with his feet under pressure. He possesses a very quick release and is extremely accurate on short and intermediate throws, both from the pocket and on the run.
As with any freshman quarterback, Jones has some improving to do in several areas. For starters, he needs to become more consistent in his mechanics and footwork. You can clearly see improvement in these areas when watching his senior film as opposed to his junior film, but he still gets “happy feet” in the pocket from time to time.
He also needs to improve on his deep ball and touch passing. Jones has solid arm strength, and he throws the ball on a rope with lethal accuracy in the short and intermediate range. However, you will often see his receivers waiting on the ball on deep throws and rarely does he hit guys in stride on long passes, which is a must at the SEC level. This is an issue that has also plagued current Vols quarterback Dobbs in the past.
In fact, Jones’ game appears very much like that of Dobbs' in many ways. Dobbs is obviously more polished and instinctual at this point in his career, but Jones has a very comparable skill set, which certainly bodes well as he enters fall camp vying for the backup role at quarterback.
That being said, Jones will have his work cut out for him with Dormady and Jennings also vying for the coveted No. 2 spot on the depth chart. Both Dormady and Jennings were able to get a big head start by enrolling at Tennessee in January, allowing them to participate in spring workouts and the Orange and White spring exhibition. Jones, on the other hand, just arrived on campus and has plenty of catching up to do in a very short time span. He will also need to add weight to his 6-2 frame in short order after showing up last week at an underwhelming 182 pounds.
In comparison to his freshmen quarterback counterparts, Jones is best described as the most balanced of the three. He isn’t quite as polished as Dormady in the passing game, and he isn’t as athletically dynamic as Jennings. Jones is, however, more mobile than Dormady, and further along than Jennings in terms of passing skills.
Dormady has already displayed a solid grasp of the Vols playbook and executed it well in the spring. And Jennings brings an athletic dynamic to the offense unmatched by the other two, but Jones may be the best fit for the current Tennessee offense in the long term.
He is a true dual-threat quarterback with a promising upside, which may ultimately give him the upper hand in landing the No. 2 quarterback spot at some point this season, and in due time, a chance to succeed Dobbs as the Vols' starting quarterback. Again, it will not be an easy ascent to the top, especially given that he is late in entering the quarterback race, trailing Dormady by a significant margin at this point. But, if he can master the playbook, show improvement in the passing game and add muscle in quick fashion; Jones should make it a very interesting race heading into the season opener.
- Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McVey is a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan who loves singing "Rocky Top" every opportunity he gets. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS
(Sheriron Jones photo courtesy of UTSports.com)