By Pete Mollica
YOUNGSTOWN — For the last two years Youngstown State senior wide receiver Donald Jones has kept busy catching passes for the Penguin football team.
Now the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder from Plainfield, N.J. is going to be even busier over the next five months if he wants to reach his all-time goal of playing in the National Football League.
Jones just completed his senior season with the Penguins and although it wasn’t all he had hoped for in wins and losses he had an outstanding individual season.
Jones, who transferred to YSU in 2008 from Lackawanna Junior College in New York, set a single-season reception record this past season with 77 catches and tied the school record for most receptions in a single game twice with 11 catches.
One of the team co-captains, Jones, topped off the season by earning a first-team berth on the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference team.
Now, he says, his work really begins.
“It was a great opportunity for me to be here these past two seasons,” Jones said. “It’s been a long journey and I still have a lot of hard work ahead of me.”
Jones has been watched by NFL scouts from the moment he set foot on the Penguins practice field back in early August and he’s talked with many of the scouts during the season.
“I’m thankful for my time here, but really I’ve just gone out and done my job,” he added.
Although Jones won’t know until after Christmas, but he from what he’s been hearing he’ll more than likely be invited to the NFL Combine.
When asked if he had any indication as to whether he’ll be drafted and in what round, he wasn’t sure.
“I’m hopeful and overall my chances of being drafted are good, but it’s all going to depend on how hard I work over these next few months,” he said.
“When I came here I’ve always had the mindset to work hard and try and get to the next level and I don’t think that I’ve done anything to change that thinking,” he added.
“This season we’ve probably had to throw the football more than we would have liked, but it worked out well for me and the other receivers,” he said. “Still, we would much rather still be playing.”
Jones said that one thing the NFL scouts are questioning is his speed in the 40-yard dash.
“I really don’t know what I’ve run it in the past, but I’m thinking around 4.4 seconds and hopeful I can get that down even lower.”
He said that after the holidays he’ll get an adviser and then begin serious training.
“I’m planning on going to Florida to do my training,” he said. “I never had any real training for the 40 yard times and down there they have different techniques to make you better.”
Does he have any preference as two which NFL team he’d like to play for?
“The Giants, the best team in America.”