LSU freshman Melvin Jones, right, prepped at Washington-Marion. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Monday, August 12, 2013 6:00 PM
BATON ROUGE —Whenever a defensive player drops a pass, some wise-acre announcer will usually remind everyone “That’s why he plays defense.”
Maybe the opposite is true, too.
LSU freshman Melvin Jones did a lot of everything at Washington-Marion, but was recruited as a linebacker after also playing quarterback, wide receiver, running back, even kicker and “whatever coach (Freddie) Harrison wanted me to do.”
One week into his LSU career, he’s found yet another spot — fullback.
“It really wasn’t my decision,” Jones said. “Just whatever is best for the team, whatever the team needs.”
Jones was minding his own business as a fledgling linebacker late last week, picking up the linebacker terminology and battling a deep stable at the position.
“I think I did pretty good in an offensive drill one day,” Jones said. “It kind of got their attention that maybe I was a pretty good offensive player.”
Something is surely up.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis called Jones one of the “most athletic” newcomers in a star-studded incoming class.
But overt athleticism isn’t normally associated with LSU fullback, where 6-foot-1, 271-pound senior J.C. Copeland is the starter. The backup is 5-11, 234-pound Billy Neighbors, another senior. Jones checked into LSU at a muscular 6-3, 245 pounds with speed belying his size.
“He was doing great,” Chavis said of Jones early work at linebacker.
Then came that offensive drill.
“It was a pass-catching drill, running on a straight line and they were throwing balls from both sides,” Jones said. “I did pretty well.
“I didn’t drop a single ball. I think that kind of caught their eye.”
“They needed a big, fast body over there,” Chavis said of the move. “I think they’re looking for a little more athleticism at that position.”
New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron does have a history of getting fullbacks actively involved with more than just the grunt blocking work. Jones could also end up being a hybrid fullback/H-back.
It’s also no secret that LSU, under Cameron’s new offense, has been throwing more to the backs.
“They felt like there was an opportunity to get him on the field quicker over there,” Chavis said. “We want to do what is best for this football team. If he can go over there and make plays on that side of the ball it makes everybody excited.”
Jones, who admitted he was surprised when head coach Les Miles approached him about the switch, is taking it in stride.
“It’s just another day for me,” Jones said. “I’m looking at it as a positive.
“In high school I played both sides of the ball. So it’s easy for me to pick up the offense. Whichever side of the ball needs me, I’m willing to play anything.”
Jones said Miles didn’t say if the move was permanent or just a trial look-see. Jones said it doesn’t matter. He’s going to give the new spot his full energy.
“I can basically do anything they ask me,” Jones said. “I think I bring the power and the speed. I’m a big guy — I can get down and block — and I have speed to do anything else I need to do.
“My transfer to offense, that’s what I’m focusing on right now.”