It didn’t take long for former Amory wide receiver Immanuel Jones to make noise in his freshman season at Jones College.
In the Bobcats’ season-opener, Jones hauled in a pair of touchdowns and proved that he would be a reliable target for the rest of the season as he finished as their leading receiver.
“When I first got here, they fixed plays to help me be able to make an impact, and I just got the ball and everyone wasn’t knocking me,” Jones said. “My teammates and coaching staff helped a lot because they were pushing me to do better. It was big to come in and have success right away as a freshman because it boosted my confidence.”
Jones had a season-high seven catches in that first game of the year against Coahoma. He said that and the Bobcats’ state championship game against EMCC were his favorites. He also had seven catches against EMCC.
“It was definitely a different feeling from high school ball, but the environment was real key,” he said. “That made me get going, and I had a lot of fun all season, but especially in that first game. EMCC is always a rival, and the atmosphere when you play them is electric. It’s a lot of competition, and I love that because I’m a competitor. I was ready to go get it, and it’s a high level to play at.”
Injury slightly hampered his senior year of high school, where Jones had to miss the first four games before finishing out strong. He said finally being healthy again was another key during his freshman season of college.
“I didn’t look at that injury my senior year as a hold up, and it was just part of the process,” Jones said. “When you’re hurt, you have a lot of time to look at life, and you can’t look at anything else. I was focused on getting back well because I knew I had to help my team and they needed me. I wanted to put them first. I think it helps you in a lot of different ways. You have to go through that kind of stuff to get to the sunshine and rainbows, and sometimes you just have to push through.”
In high school, Jones made an impact returning kickoffs and punts, and it took him until the second game to get into that area for the Bobcats. His highlight of the year on special teams was a 64-yard punt return touchdown against Northeast in Week 7.
“I originally wasn’t supposed to be on returns, but they asked me if I wanted to catch punts. I did it in practice, and the next thing I knew I was in the game doing it,” Jones said. “It played a big part in my role here. I can’t explain it, but when I get the ball, I know exactly what to do, and it’s just a feeling that comes natural to me. I think I have good field vision and can see where I’m at and what I’m doing pretty well. It’s a lot of hard work, but at the end of the day, you just let it go and play ball.”
The Bobcats finished the year out with a 10-2 record, losing to East Mississippi in the state championship game, but also beating Eastern Arizona in a bowl game.
“We had a lot of team games that were great experiences, and we had some top three players in a lot of positions,” Jones said. “We had the top defensive backs in the country, and being around those guys and going against them in practice every day, it makes me a better player and a person. It changes your mindset.”
Jones said he felt like playing at Amory prepared him for college ball and credited his high school coaches.
“Coach (Linzy) Patterson really prepared me for the drills, and guys like he and Coach (Chris) Rainey have been there and know what it takes,” he said. “Coach (Allen) Glenn prepared me for some of these moments in college football, and he actually talked to Jones about me coming there. All those guys took me under their wing and helped me get to where I’m at.”
Jones said he thinks the Bobcats can replicate their success from last season with so many players returning.
“We had a roster full of freshmen last year on defense, so the sky is the limit because they’re experienced now,” he said. “We’re all more level-headed, and we have soaked in a lot of knowledge each and every day about how to play at this level.”
Personally, Jones has several goals for himself and is working to still play football after JC.
“I would like to have at least 1,000 all-purpose yards. I want to have at least one touchdown in each game because it’s got to be my year,” Jones said. “I don’t have an offer yet, but I know they are coming. My coaches and teammates believe in me and say I have what it takes and to just keep working until it happens. I have loved the game and been working at it since a young age, so I just have to let it all fall into place. God will do for me what he does, and I have to trust in the process and keep doing the right things.”