Marshall football: Thin Herd try QB Jones at receiver
HUNTINGTON - Conelius Jones' conversion from quarterback to wide receiver Wednesday had more to do with an incomplete roster than his incomplete passes.
Jones, a 6-foot-2 true freshman from Spartansburg, S.C., traded in his red QB jersey for a plain green one and joined the wide receivers for the fifth day of Marshall's spring football drills at Edwards Stadium.
He made a few catches and shook a few defenders, but mostly spent the afternoon session learning where to line up on offense.
"It's a shame we had to move him as early as we did," Herd offensive coordinator Bill Legg said. "I'd have like to have given him more time to find out exactly what he could or couldn't do at quarterback. We just have so many kids down right now and he's such a good athlete."
Including Jones, Marshall had just four receivers who either didn't sit out or didn't sport a blue jersey, which designates those who are injured but still able to participate. Jones, sophomore Jermaine Kelson, senior Troy Evans and walk-on freshman Dameon Garrett were the only completely healthy wideouts.
Senior Wayne Bonner and freshman Jazz King practiced in blue jerseys.
So Jones, who spent the past three days competing with sophomore quarterbacks A.J. Graham and Eddie Sullivan, received plenty of looks at a position that has been decimated by injuries this spring.
"I'm anxious to look at the tape because it look like he made a couple plays," Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said of Jones, who was once committed to play quarterback for Rich Rodriguez at Michigan. "We had to get somebody there to even practice.
"I don't know if it's permanent or not. We'll take a look at the film and see if he can help us there or not."
Jones spent most of the practice at the outside receiver positions, and even took the field with the first-team offense during 11-on-11s. Bonner lined up opposite of Jones with Evans in the slot.
"I think it went all right for the first day," Jones said. "I still got a lot to learn. I'm just glad to be doing something to help the team."
Jones said the last time he was clocked in the 40-yard dash, he ran a 4.46.
"I think I'm faster now," he said.
Legg said the transition from quarterback to receiver should benefit Jones and the Herd.
"He can get on the field much faster at wideout than he can at quarterback because quarterback is probably the most complicated position in our offense," Legg said. "It just takes time.
"Wide receiver is such an athletic position. There are techniques you've got to learn; there are some disciplines you've got to learn. But it's based so much more on athletic ability that he was the obvious choice to move so we could get through a practice."
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THOSE WHO missed at least a portion of Wednesday's practice: James Rouse (sophomore defensive end), Brandon Sparrow (sophomore defensive tackle, Kellen Harris (senior linebacker), Malcolm Strong (freshman defensive end), Raheem Waiters (freshman wide receiver), Aaron Dobson (junior wide receiver), Antavious Wilson (junior wide receiver) and Joe Johnson (freshman defensive back).
That list does not include those previously ruled out for the entire spring because of shoulder injuries: Andre Booker (junior wide receiver), Demetrius Evans (sophomore wide receiver) and Alex Schooler (sophomore offensive lineman).
A handful of walk-ons joined the walking wounded for various exercises outside of the white lines.
Senior linebacker Tyson Gale left practice after colliding with sophomore cornerback Monterius Lovett while trying to make a tackle. Gale returned for post-practice interviews.
There were also a few players who practiced but donned blue jerseys, which denotes a physical issue that does not preclude the player from participating. Among those: Bonner and King, as mentioned previously, and Gator Hoskins (sophomore tight end).
Hoskins' blue jersey had no impact on his ability to catch the ball. He made several catches and nifty adjustments on deep balls on a particularly windy day of spring practice.
Contact sportswriter Chuck McGill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.