Cowboys Put Jones Back in Comfort Zone

Sept. 24, 2002


Leonard Jones feels at home again.

Not in his home in Denver, but at running back for the University of Wyomingfootball team.

Jones, a junior, was one of the top high school running backs in Colorado inhis senior season at Denver's Montbello High in 1999. He rushed for 2,164yards as a senior, and set a Colorado high school record with 584 yards in agame against George Washington High.

Because of his slight build at 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, not many Division I-Aschools came calling for Jones' services.

UW coach Vic Koenning gave Jones a chance. But when Jones arrived at UW, hewas moved to wide receiver. As a sophomore last season, he caught 23 passesfor 221 yards.

When fall camp started this season, Jones was moved back to running backbecause junior Derek Armah's status was uncertain because of a suspension.

Don't look for Jones to move back to wide receiver anytime soon.

Jones has gained 94 yards rushing over his last two games, and he hasaveraged 5.6 yards per carry this season.

"Getting used to the running game here took some time because I ran in apower-I in high school, but I'm getting used to it," Jones said.

Jones gives the Cowboys a running back with a burst of speed that can get tothe corner. He gives the team a chance to have a player who can break a longrun. But Jones' lack of size prevents him from being a guy who can carry theball 25 or 30 times a game.

"He likes juking and jiving with the big guys in there," UW running backscoach Don Julian said. "He's good enough to make people miss, so if he canget about 20 reps or so, that would be good for him."

Jones also is one of UW's more versatile players. He leads the team inall-purpose yards with 98.8 yards per game. Most of those yards have come onkickoff returns, where he averages 20.3 yards per return.

Jones also has caught seven passes for 39 yards.

While Jones is emerging as a solid college player, he still can't help butthink about that record-setting game as a senior in high school. He stillwears the same cleats he wore in that game. Jones' older brother, who playedcollege football at Hawaii, gave him those cleats.

"That's the best highlight I've had," Jones said. "I remember it wassnowing, I had on these same cleats, and everyone was cheering for me."

Jones is looking forward to making more memorable moments at UW.

"I just want to be a spark for this team," Jones said. "I think I can dothat as a running back. I may not be that big, but I can do it physically.And my heart is big enough, so I know I can."