Crucial Decision Awaits Jones

Crucial Decision Awaits Jones

Up until now Mike Jones has been able to balance football and baseball at ASU. In June he made the resolution to sign with the New York Yankees, thus effectively ending his ASU baseball career. He called that decision one of the most difficult he ever had to make, and in a few months he will be faced with another intricate choice – to pursue a professional career on the diamond or the gridiron?

The balancing act between both sports is something that Mike Jones is very accustomed to, since he's been doing it for the last three seasons. The wide receiver missed a considerable portion of last year's spring practice, as well as the off-season conditioning program to play for the Sun Devil baseball team.

Nonetheless, in 2007 he paced the maroon and gold with ten touchdowns and established himself as on the top returning receivers in the Pac-10 this season. He collected 46 catches and 769 yards and led the nation in reception-to-touchdown ratio among players with at least 45 receptions.

A remarkable feat? Jones shrugs his shoulders at that notion.

"It's just the way it is," he remarked. "I've been doing this for a long time, and I just know what to do and what not to do. I love to play and compete in both sports and I just like to show the fans in both sports that I can play."

His 2008 baseball campaign was in sharp contrast to his 2007 football season. Jones batted .172 in 58 plate appearances and started just 16 of 49 games he played in. Yet, those numbers don't convey the high level of admiration that Jones has for the baseball program. "I've had many good memories from that program, Coach Murphy and the players," said Jones. "I'll never forget them. I can't thank Coach Murphy enough for giving me the opportunity to play baseball here."

"Going to the professional level was a great opportunity I couldn't pass up," remarked Jones who was selected by the Yankees in the in the 29th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball draft. He played for 15 games of rookie ball in Tampa, and batted .184 with five doubles. He also drew five walks and stole a base. "I had fun and learned a lot there," he said of his experience.

With his football eligibility about to exhaust by the end of this year, Jones is confronted with the dilemma of whether to continue and pursue his very young professional baseball career or devote all his time and energy for the NFL combine which will take place just a couple of months after the football season comes to a conclusion.

"Honestly, I'm up for grabs and not thinking about that right now," Jones claimed. "I just wanna come out here and have a good (football) season. If I take care of business on the field, business off the field will take care of itself. In January, if I want to prepare for the NFL I'll do that. If I still wanna play baseball I'll do that too."

Due to various injuries, it has been an inconsistent fall camp for the wide receiver. Therefore, he was quite content that in the camp's ending scrimmage he was able to score a 32-yard touchdown and lead all wide receivers in both catches and yards in that session.

"I felt real sick all day," said Jones after the scrimmage. "But I wanted to come out and show everyone that the team was ready to play. It was a good feeling to come out here and score."

"Injuries did slow me down in camp, but I still feel that I can be ready to go when the season starts. I might have to work a little bit conditioning wise because I missed some practices, but I'm gonna take care of that as the season goes along."

Like many Sun Devil faithful following their team in the off-season, Jones realizes the depth and talent on Arizona State's wide receiver corps and is excited for the possibilities that lie ahead for this unit.

"I love being around these guys," Jones stated. "Everyone knows what they're doing. Even the younger guys like Gerell (Robinson) come here with a great attitude of wanting to learn as much as they can so they can contribute this year. Who knows how many receivers we will have playing in games this year? We might have 20 of them (laughs)."

As one of two seniors in the receivers unit, Jones not only wants to make his last go around in Tempe to be a memorable one, but also exude more leadership than ever before.

"That's my job," he commented. "I've been here five years. I know how the college scene works on and off (the field), and I need to answer any questions players have about football and non-football issues. I just want to look out for my teammates and help all of us to have a great season this year."

Personally, Jones wants to be the big playmaker for the team just like he was last year. "I really want to help get the team over the hump this year, and I want us to be outright Pac-10 champs this year," he said.

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