There is no question that 2021 could usher in special things for fifth-year senior Velus Jones Jr.
The athletic speedster is the perfect compliment to Josh Heupel’s big-play, high-powered offense and, as a result, his immediate future looks very bright.
But how did he get here?
The University of Southern California
2017 – After redshirting in 2016, Velus played in all 14 games for the Trojans. While Jones’ effect on the passing game was minimal, his dynamic open-field ability thrust him into primary kick returning duties for USC. He excelled quickly in this role, averaging 24.5 yards per return.
2018 – Jones’ sophomore campaign saw his role in the passing game increase. His numbers from the line of scrimmage weren’t impressive (24 receptions for 266 yards), but his 4.4 speed continued to be on full display. His consistent success in the return game earned him a Pro Football Focus second-team nod.
2019 – Velus’ focus was narrowed to kick returner in 2019 and the statistics prove this move was the correct one. In this more defined role, he looked electric. Jones ranted 14th in the nation with 704 total return yards and made the All-Pac 12 second-team as a result.
The University of Tennessee
2020 – After earning his degree from USC, Jones chose Tennessee as his post-grad destination. During his lone season with Tennessee, Jones showcased not only his explosiveness but his marked improvement as a receiver. His final game of the season was his best. Velus shredded the Dores for seven catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
It’s clear to anyone who knows football that Velus Jones passes the eye test.
He is a nightmare for opposing special teams.
He is a big-play waiting to happen and his ability to contribute in the passing game looks to be trending upward.
If he can pair his natural talent and growth with the new scheme Josh Heupel is introducing, 2021 could be the best year yet for Velus Jones Jr.