Tide's Julio Jones grabs starting job Print
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Wednesday, 27 August 2008 10:59
NCAAF Headline News

 TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -John Parker Wilson might as well have wandered around campus this summer carrying a sign that read: ``Julio's doing fine.''
Then, maybe fans would have skipped ahead to ask Alabama's quarterback about the team or the season or even what coach Nick Saban is like. That last question is so 2007.
Seems Topic No. 1 in T-town these days is how much-hyped freshman receiver Julio Jones is doing.
``That's the first thing everybody asks,'' Wilson said. ``It was coach Saban last year, now it's Julio.''
The most definitive answer of how Jones is doing came earlier this week when Saban released the Crimson Tide's depth chart and the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder was on top. The nation's top-rated receiver recruit has already had a catch - at a closed scrimmage, no less - wind up on YouTube and has been anointed a star before ever playing a college game.
And equally impressive, his teammates seem OK with that.
``He hasn't come in expecting anything just because of what he did in high school,'' Wilson said. ``He's shown me and the rest of the guys that he's gonna earn his position, earn his spot and so far he's done that every day.''
Jones and freshman linebacker Don'ta Hightower both are listed as starters for Saturday night's game against No. 9 Clemson in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Only nine freshmen have started a season opener for Alabama.
Jones got plenty of attention recently when he made a one-armed catch along the sideline during a scrimmage, then stiff-armed All-Southeastern Conference safety Rashad Johnson on his way to a touchdown. A video of the play made it onto the Internet and has already drawn more than 24,000 views on YouTube.
Plenty more will get to see him on Saturday night. Since Saban doesn't allow freshmen to speak to the media, he almost seems to have taken on near-mythical status with teammates left to do all the talking. Who's Julio?
``He doesn't let that hype get to him,'' receiver Mike McCoy said. ``He's real laid-back. He's cool on and off the field. We hang out all the time. This past weekend we just kicked it together. He's a humble guy.''
Added offensive tackle Andre Smith: ``He's a great athlete, a great guy both on and off the field.''
McCoy said the attention is deserved. He even watched film of Jones from high school and was a believer.
``He's just a different breed,'' McCoy said. ``Some people have got it, some people don't. He's one who has it.''
Jones was a Parade and USA Today All-American who was regarded by most recruiting services as one of the five best high school players in the nation after racking up more than 3,000 yards in his high school career.
Saban said Jones has been consistent from the start of fall camp and arrived in good shape. He will also return kicks and be a backup to Javier Arenas on punt returns.
``He's consistently made plays in practice and in both scrimmages,'' Saban said. ``After the first scrimmage, it was pretty evident that he was going to have some role as one of the three receivers that we use quite a bit.
``This last week he certainly solidified his position as the starter. He and Mike McCoy have been our two best receivers throughout this camp.''
The hype has come because of Jones' high school credentials, but also because of his timely arrival. The Tide has to replace Alabama;s career receiving leader DJ Hall, along with Keith Brown and Matt Caddell.
Hello, Julio.
The only current Tide player who might be able to relate to this level of attention out of high school is Smith, regarded as the nation's top offensive line prospect a few years ago. He said teammates have told him they thought he would be arrogant, and had the same fear for Jones.
``They thought he was going to be, but he's a hard worker,'' Smith said. ``He's not out boasting about, what (he's) going to do. He just lets his actions speak louder than his words.''
 

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