FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Redshirt freshman John Stephen Jones will start at quarterback for Arkansas on Saturday.
Jones has played in two games this season, both off the bench. He has completed 10 of 16 passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns. He has also rushed nine times for 17 yards. How does it feel to be the starting quarterback?
“It feels pretty good,” Jones said. “Just ready to get to work.”
How did you find out you were starting?
“Sunday, Coach (Chad) Morris told me,” Jones said. “We practiced on Sunday, I got some number one reps and then he told me.”
Did Morris announce it to the team?
“No, sir, he just said ‘get ready’ and he threw me in with the ones Sunday at practice and that’s how kind of how it went,” Jones said.
Jones has some talented wide receivers including Treylon Burks, Trey Knox and Mike Woods to throw it to. He talked about the chemistry he has built with the receivers so far.
“It’s nice,” Jones said. “It’s real nice to get in rhythm again, I threw with them all summer and fall camp so it’s nice to get back with them.”
Several times particularly during preseason Morris would tell the media how you were moving the team as well or better than the other quarterbacks. But you have had to wait your turn to play how has that been?
“I was just going into every week with the feeling that there is a chance you are going to play,” Jones said. “Because when you get thrown in, you never know when it is going to be and you just have to be ready.”
How was today’s practice?
“Today was nice,” Jones said. “The weather was great. Football weather is coming back and getting out there and playing some football and get a whole lot of reps.”
Saturday will be Senior Day. While the season hasn’t gone as hoped how big would it be to get a win for the seniors on Saturday?
“The seniors have been great to me and they have been great for this football team,” Jones said. “We owe it to them. It is the last time for them to put on the helmet in this stadium. To go out there and get a win would mean a lot to them and a lot to me, too.”
He will be going against Ty Storey on Saturday. Storey was a teammate of Jones last season at Arkansas. He reached out to you after the Alabama game?
“He shot me a text after Alabama and told me congratulations on my first career touchdown pass,” Jones said. “Me and Ty are really good friends and it is going to be fun to see him on Saturday.”
Jones joked about another quarterback last season, Connor Noland, also congratulating him.
“He’s my roommate so unfortunately I and to talk to him,” Jones said with a laugh. “Connor is one of my best friends, I live with him so we have a lot of camaraderie.”
He will split some reps with KJ Jefferson, a true freshman, at quarterback this week. How has Jefferson looked?
“KJ is incredible and he has learned a lot and learned a lot fast,” Jones said. “He’s a freshman and he comes in and asks a lot of questions in our meetings and he has really grown as far as I can see. I am excited to see him play again on Saturday.”
The crowd cheered loudly on Saturday when both you and Jefferson went into the game. Did you hear it?
“I am just focused on the game,” Jones said. “I am not really worried about the fans, I am just worried about the quarterback situation.”
His grandfather, Jerry Jones, owns the Dallas Cowboys. What has been his reaction to you starting?
“He is just excited for his family,” Jones said. “We love each other to death so I am sure he is excited.”
Jones helped lead Highland Park (Texas) to a pair of state championships. What’s been the biggest difference between high school and SEC?
“Speed,” Jones said. “Of course, a lot of players are a lot faster. It is just getting used to that speed, but once you get it done, it’s fine.”
On Monday night, Arkansas extended preferred walk-on offer to Highland Park wide receiver-tight end Paxton Anderson, 6-4, 207, who is Jones’ cousin. Jones said Tuesday night he hopes to have Anderson at Arkansas to catch passes from him in the future.