Jacksonville State’s began the season overlooking sophomore running back Miles Jones. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, their opponents have made the same mistake.
“We came out of the spring and for whatever reason we just didn’t feel like Miles, from a confidence level, was doing the things we thought he could do,” said head coach Bill Clark.
Jones first took the field as a true freshman in 2012. After Troymaine Pope suffered a knee injury, the Gamecocks found themselves shorthanded at running back. That is when the redshirt came off of Jones. He only provided depth that year. Washaun Ealey and DaMarcus James did most of the ball carrying. He only finished with 37 yards that season.
Wind the clock forward a year and Jones is reliving that experience. Another Injury to Troymaine Pope propelled Jones into action. This time, however, was a little different. Jones would not be inserted to add depth. He would be inserted as the starting running back.
For the Acworth, Ga. native, making his first career start at the Georgia Dome was “a great experience.” Naturally, Jones is a lifelong Atlanta Falcons fan. For the first time, he got to walk through the tunnel and dress in the same locker room as his favorite NFL team.
“Everyone doesn’t get to do this,” Jones said. “In Georgia high school, you play there only if you all make it to the state championship game. That was always my goal in high school, make it to state, make it to the dome. I never got that chance. This year, when I saw we were playing Georgia State at home, I wanted to have a great game at the dome.”
He did just that. He led the Gamecocks in rushing with 82 yards that game. His first touchdown, however, would have to wait another week.
Murray State came to town in Week 5. On a 2nd down play from the 3-yard line late in the 2nd quarter, Jones took the handoff on a sweep to the left and scampered into the end zone.
“It was great to get my first touchdown,” he said. “It really felt good inside. I have to give all the thanks to the linemen. Without them that wouldn’t have been possible.
After crossing the goal line, Jones dropped the ball and celebrated by leaping straight into the arms of offensive tackle Adam Wright. He finished that game with 95 yards.
“Somewhere in there, the light turned on with Miles to be the guy we knew he could be,” coach Clark said.
Jones believes his performance against the Jacksonville Dolphins “opened some eyes.” He was one of four 100-yard rushers for the Gamecocks that night. He finished with 138 yards that night, second to only Pope’s 160 yards.
“As I told him,” coach Clark said, “he’s messed up now because we know what he can do. We expect it from him. In my mind he’s just another starter.”
The Gamecocks left Jones off their depth chart through the first three games of the season. Since the Week 4 game against Georgia State, he has been listed along with James and Pope as the starter.