Top Prospect of Week One: Alabama WR/RS Christion Jones
Jones' three touchdowns proved critical in No. 1 Alabama's win over Virginia Tech. Scouts will appreciate Jones' versatility, as well as his ability to stand out on such a big stage.
Each Wednesday of the college football season NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang will identify his Prospect of the Week. To qualify, the player must have played a significant role in their team's performance against a quality opponent, demonstrating not only effectiveness as the collegiate level but the rare traits to demand the attention of pro scouts, as well.
Top Prospect of Week 1: Alabama WR/RS Christion Jones
A number of his Alabama teammates may wind up being higher selections in the NFL Draft, but no prospect enjoyed a stronger performance on a bigger stage in Week 1 than Jones, a junior wideout and return extraordinaire.
Jones scored three touchdowns and racked up 256 all-purpose yards in the two-time defending champ's season-opening win over a gifted and proud Virginia Tech Hokies squad.
The Hokies played Alabama much tougher than the final 35-10 score would appear. Were it not for Jones' three touchdowns, the outcome could have been in doubt.
Not even Alabama can reload quickly enough to not feel the pinch of losing NFL draft picks Chance Warmack (Tennessee, first round), D.J. Fluker (San Diego, first round) and Barrett Jones (St. Louis, fourth round) from their offensive line and Virginia Tech too full advantage, often re-setting the line of scrimmage in Saturday night's contest. The mighty Crimson Tide posted just 206 total yards of offense. Virginia Tech had 212.
With Alabama incapable of simply running the football down the throats of its opponent in this one, the stage was set for Jones and his dynamic big plays to steal the show.
He didn't waste time; making a dramatic entrance with a weaving 72-yard punt return for a touchdown before A.J. McCarron and Co. even got on the field.
Jones 94-yard kickoff return came in the closing minutes of the second quarter, after the Hokies had appeared to gain some momentum with a rare interception of McCarron and a field goal narrowing the score to a manageable 21-10.
Instead, the 5-11, 185-pound Jones fielded the ball, squirted his way through three blockers into the teeth of Virginia Tech's coverage unit and lowered his shoulder to absorb multiple would-be tacklers approaching him. Jones kept his legs driving, showing balance and determination to run through simultaneous hits from two Hokies' defenders to slip outside, find an avenue and show off hisimpressive acceleration.
This same burst (as well as the ability to track the ball over his shoulder) resulted in Jones' third score of the day, as he looked in a beautifully thrown deep ball by MCarron for a tumbling 38-yard touchdown reception with 3:43 left in the third quarter that wound up being Alabama's final points of the night.
Considering all of the talent at Alabama, it is easy for scouts to overlook a prospect. With a dominating effort on offense and special teams, alike, Jones assured that no talent evaluator watching the preseason No. 1 team in America will soon forget his name.
For his efforts Jones was named the Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week, as well as the SEC's Special Teams' Player of the Week. He was also named one of four Players of the Week by CBSSports.com.
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