On the field, Jones – a 6-foot-2 junior out of Fontana – returns as the leading receiver from the 2009 season, making 43 catches and scoring six touchdowns. With this being his third year in the system, and his third working with senior quarterback Kevin Riley, Cal fans have right to expect that those numbers will only go up.
But despite all the preseason accolades and higher expectations, Jones does not worry about the hype.
"[The hype] does not put any pressure on me," says Jones. "I just keep doing what I have been doing. That's all I have ever done is be productive and be consistent. That's what I plan on being. It does not add pressure."
Jones is considered by many to be the best player on a unit that returns a number of familiar faces, including junior Alex Lagemann, junior Mike Calvin, and senior Jeremy Ross. Their relationship and familiarity with the offense should provide the passing game with a boost.
"We're very close," says Jones. "We've been close from the start. Ever since I have been here, we have had a bond. And we have always been considered brothers. There are high expectations for all of us, and we all need to contribute and be better than last year, on and off the field. I'm happy to go to war with these guys."
The unit also brings in a slew of fresh faces, including freshman Keenan Allen, freshman Kaelin Clay, freshman Tevin Carter, and junior Coleman Edmond. All bring added size and extra speed, something that has been lacking ever since DeSean Jackson left for the NFL. The new wideouts have done well through camp, to the point where Tedford came out and said that he expects all four to be an active part of the rotation.
Jones is more than thrilled that they are on board.
"I'm really glad they are a part of this family," says Jones. "All of them potentially have the chance to come in and make a big impact, and that's what we need. We need impact players. All of them are fast, strong; they can go up and catch. I'm happy that they are here."
Off the field, Jones has become a mentor to the young guys.
All of the new wideouts take note when Jones stays late after practice to help them with their routes. They take note when Jones makes comments watching film. They take note when Jones is doing the little things right, such as to not only be on time, but to be early. Such action stays with the wide receivers, who are thrilled to learn from a leader like Jones.
"[Jones] is like a big brother to me," says Keenan Allen. "Whenever I need help on routes, he helps me with knowing what to do. He's my roommate [for camp]. He leaves early, and tells me to get up [before the alarm clock]. He's a leader."
Jones tones down the praise, indicating that he feels such habits are expected.
"[The new wide receivers] are definitely great," says Jones. "These guys are out here, trying as hard as they can. I just try to be there for them."
So what does Jones hope to accomplish with all the hard work, and being a leader?
"We want to be the best receiving unit in the nation," says Jones.
"That's what we always strive for."
Practice News & Notes
The Bears held a helmets-only practice on Tuesday, which acted more as a walkthrough leading up to Wednesday's afternoon, full-pads practice. Wednesday's practice will feature more game-like situations. "We're going to let them play on their own," said head coach Jeff Tedford.
Wednesday will also be a day in which the team would work on live special teams. In regards to the return game, sophomore Isi Sofele and senior Jeremy Ross are in the mix to return kicks and punts. But Tedford also indicated that some of the freshmen will get a look. Nonetheless, Tedford feels confident about his group of returners. "We are going to play our best guys on special teams," Tedford said.
Junior running back Shane Vereen continued to do individual rehab work on the sidelines, but Tedford would not give a definitive timetable on when Vereen would return to practice. "Soon," Tedford said.
Freshman wide receiver Keenan Allen continues to impress the coaching staff with his physical talent. "As of right now, [Allen would start]," Tedford said.
As for the rest of the freshman wide receivers, Tedford said, "all those guys are right there" in terms of being in the mix for playing time.
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