DETROIT — It’s hard for a 6-foot-3, 325-pound prospect to come out of nowhere in broad daylight, but that’s exactly what Robert Jones did on Friday at Wayne State University.
Jones, a rising junior at Chicago’s Urban Prep Bronzeville, began his camp tour on June 3 at the University of Illinois, where he met new head coach Lovie Smith.
“Coach Smith told me to keep working,” said Jones, whose camp tour also included a stop a R.A.S. camp in Fort Wayne, Indiana, last Sunday. Scout.com took some video at the camp in Indiana.
Toledo and Ball State took note of Jones, and after the Detroit-based Sound Mind Sound Body camp, Purdue and Michigan State have started to recruit him.
Jones explained how he has transformed himself into an FBS prospect in one year.
“I’ve always been big, but I was slimmer before,” Jones said. “Then I got serious about football, so I started to eat a lot and work out, and I got bigger.
“I was about 6-1, 245 pounds last year, but then as I got bigger and stronger, I started working out on the bench with 225 (pounds). Once the season started I realized I could be something … I’ve been grinding ever since.”
Jones didn’t play football his freshman season, so the 2015 campaign was his first.
“Robert works very hard and he’s a kid who wants to get better,” said Mike Willis, who coached up Jones last season, his first as Urban Prep Bronzeville’s head coach
“Robert is as good of an offensive tackle as defensive tackle. He can block his butt off and keep his feet moving, and on defense he can rush the passer.
“I’ve started working with him more to use his hands; trying to teach him you can’t bull-rush everyone. You have to be able to rip and swim.”
Jones found that out on Friday when the SMSB camp put the prospects on the field in head-to-head drills. The linemen didn’t wear pads, but there was still plenty of pushing and shoving in the drills.
“The competition was a little harder, and the people at this camp came out and really worked hard,” Jones said. “I think I did pretty good. At first I was trying to get the gist of it, but then I got to where I knew what I was doing, I did pretty good.
“I learned I need to use my hands more and get lighter on my feet.”
Jones said he can bench 225 pounds 15 times, and he’s carrying a 3.0 grade point average.
“I just want to work hard,” Jones said, “and make my dreams come true.”