Matt Jones entered the spring with one mission; win a job.
And early into things it was clear he was on the right path to accomplish that goal taking the role of center from the departed Tyler Orlosky and never really looking back. That goal was accomplished but more after left.
Jones has played nearly every single snap at the spot through the first four games and has been learning on the fly about the nuances of playing the center position.
That’s not to say there haven’t been some pains, quite literally after seeing almost exclusively all of the reps at that spot.
“Whatever they tell me to do. I’m doing it. I was sore, but every offensive lineman is sore no matter how many snaps they play,” Jones said.
It isn’t entirely new territory for the Hubbard, Ohio, product seeing as he spent his entire high school freshman season in the middle of the offensive line
He would go on to spot fill there throughout the rest of his high school career as well, but it’s a much different environment than the straight downhill nature of the inside offensive guard positions. And this isn’t high school anymore, it’s the highest level of division one football.
“You don’t have to worry about calls, fronts or snapping the ball. You just go,” Jones said.
But in the middle, communication is key.
Communication with the rest of the offensive line when it comes to identifying the fronts and making calls, as well as being on the same page with redshirt junior quarterback Will Grier. And all of this reading of the defense while trying to actually get the ball accurately snapped.
“I make my points and my calls, we hear the play and if we’re going fast we figure it out on the go,” Jones said of the process.
If it seems like a lot, that’s because it is and the combination of it all is a challenge at times. But that’s where help from his counterparts can come into play up front.
“With me, my head is between my legs. I’m looking at Grier and he’s looking at the field. But if I have a lot of stuff going on, I have the rest of the other four guys to help me out with the calls,” Jones said.
That was on display against Virginia Tech when Fed-Ex Field presented a loud environment and Jones relied on redshirt senior guard Kyle Bosch, who has dabbled some at center, to help him get the play and then see how the defense is lined up and if they are shifting or moving. Redshirt freshman offensive guard Josh Sills is on the other side and he also isn’t afraid to speak his mind.
“You have to pick the defense apart. The defensive line and linebackers, not even what Will is doing,” he said. “It’s all difficult with everything coming together.”
His running mate Bosch has been impressed with the composure that Jones has played with to date, especially considering he is filling the shoes of a three-year starter in Rimington Finalist Tyler Orlosky. That is no easy task, but Jones has displayed nothing but poise for a redshirt sophomore.
“Matt really held his composure. He played really well, beyond his years,” Bosch said.
Now Jones is looking to continue to work on the intricacies of playing the position and continue to improve so he too has a chance to go onto a long-term hold on the spot.
“I’m just trying to make a name for myself,” he said.