Deshaunte Jones on his strong relationship with quarterback Brock Purdy.
Tommy Birch, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Ia. — The connection between Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy and wide receiver Deshaunte Jones really took off this summer. That’s when the two would meet, along with some of Iowa State’s other quarterbacks and wide receivers, to practice throwing and running routes.
Over time, Purdy and Jones built a bond.
“We came in on Saturday’s, Sunday’s — whatever day it is — Tuesday’s — whatever, just throwing routes and doing everything,” Jones said. “He trusts me and I trust that guy.”
That was evident during Iowa State’s season-opening 29-26 triple-overtime win over Northern Iowa on Saturday. Jones had a career day, hauling in a game-high 14 receptions for 126 yards for the Cyclones. He was so successful that Jones was the brightest spot for the offense on the day.
“It wasn’t the game-plan to just throw the ball to Deshaunte in the early part of the game,” Purdy said. “It’s just the way it happened. I feel comfortable passing to him. I feel comfortable throwing to all the guys. It could be someone else in the next game.”
But in Iowa State’s first game of the season, it was Jones. The senior wide receiver set career highs in receptions and receiving yards. His 14 receptions are the most by an Iowa State player since Tracy Henderson’s school record 16 catches against Kansas State in 1983. It was the first 100-yard receiving game of Jones’ career.
And it could be a sign of things to come for Jones, who has always played a significant role in Iowa State’s offense. He had a breakout true freshman season, finishing second on the team in receptions (37), receiving yards (536) and touchdown catches (six). But even since, he’s been overshadowed in the offense, having to fight for targets behind other star receivers like Allen Lazard and Hakeem Butler.
Now that those two are off to the NFL, it might be Jones’ time to shine. Jones, who is already Iowa State’s most experienced wide receiver, has also already embraced his role as a leader off the field. Jones helped lead some off-season workouts with the receivers and quarterbacks, running routes and throwing passes. The time was especially helpful for Purdy and Jones.
“We came in and watched film a couple of times with the receivers and quarterbacks (too),” Jones said. “Just being able to get on the same page as those guys and being in the same film room and just thinking what they’re thinking and being able to just play football (is good).”
While Purdy works to gain the trust of his other young receivers, Jones already has a leg up on the rest after their time together last season and then in the off-season. The connection showed right away Saturday, with Purdy connecting with Jones on his first three passes of the game. Purdy kept going to him in the game’s important moments, too: Six of Jones’ catches came on third downs. And five of Jones’ receptions resulted in first downs. He even showed he has some of Butler’s athleticism, hauling in a one-handed reception.
Purdy said Northern Iowa’s defense, which kept dropping back, opened up more bubbles and quick routes, which meant for more opportunities for Jones.
“He did a great job of catching the ball and executing after he caught it,” Purdy said.
Jones, who was targeted 16 times on the day, was such an important part of the game plan that Iowa State coach Matt Campbell named him the Cyclones’ offensive player of the game.
“What he did in the game is what you hope a senior that’s played a lot of football would do,” Campbell said. “The one-handed catch is the one that sticks in my mind, but I know he had a lot of really great things that occurred.”
Even Jones said he was surprised with how much he was involved in the offense for Iowa State’s first game. But he said he’s not worried about targets, receptions or receiving yards — finding a way to help Iowa State’s offense any way he can is his only goal.
“I’m just grateful for the opportunity that I have and every shot I get,” Jones said. “I take full advantage of it. If it’s 100 balls or just two balls, (my goal is) just be focused and do everything I can to help.”
Source: Des Moines Register