After struggling to find his footing at McKinney North as a sophomore, Jon Jones busted free last fall by having a productive junior campaign after transferring to crosstown rival McKinney.
Despite going against bigger and faster competition at the 6A level, Jones was able to use his 6-foot-5-inch, 235-pound frame and NFL-sized wingspan to consistently wreck shop against some of the best teams in the state. As a result, a player who wasn’t on many scout’s radars at the beginning of the season last fall has morphed into one of the area’s most recruited players for the class of 2021 and the face of the McKinney football program.
“It’s a blessing to be in this position of getting highly recruited. I’m very focused on getting better and staying humble through this process,” Jones said. “Adversity on and off the field has helped me become the player I’m turning into and a lot of people didn’t realize how much dog I have in me to make plays for my team.”
Unlike some defensive standouts, Jones has a head coach who has walked in his shoes as McKinney head coach Marcus Shavers was an all-state and U.S. Army All-American defensive lineman coming out of Allen and went on to do good things at Arkansas. Now the head man of Lion Nation, Shavers is excited about Jones’ bright future as the young defensive end scratches the surface of his potential.
“It cool to see Jones blossom because I’m a big fan of linemen being an ex-lineman and knowing what they bring, but to see the work Jon has put in and the adversity he has overcome on and off the field has been an awesome experience,” Shavers said. “To see him in the position he is in being one of the most recruited kids in the state and being a leader for our team on and off the field simply makes me very happy, and I know the best is yet to come.”
Jones’ breakout junior season did not come without a learning curve, as he came out of the gates slow while learning a McKinney defensive scheme that is entirely different from the one he was in at North. Once he finally grasped the scheme and improved his power technique skills, Jones was able to develop some consistency while being a big factor in the Lions’ playoff push down the stretch and postseason run in games against Jesuit, Boyd, Naaman Forrest and Waco Midway.
Now, after racking up 45 overall tackles, including 15 for losses, and playing a key role for a McKinney squad that reached the area round of the playoffs for the first time in 23 years, Jones currently has received a whopping 24 scholarship offers and counting — headlined by schools like Nebraska, Missouri, Baylor and Colorado.
“After getting robbed by not getting first or second team all-district an only getting honorable mention, I’m taking that to heart because I’m focused on leading my team to wins, setting some records and having a crazy senior season,” Jones said. “I have a lot of haters out there, which only motivates me as I’ll continue to overcome all that and work harder to be the complete player, I know I can be.”