CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When all eyes focus on Oak Hill's Jalen Jones, the Red Devil running back looks two and three steps ahead of opposing defenses.
Jones, Class AAA's leading returning rusher, possesses the physical traits but more importantly the mental capacity to anticipate defenders and continue his pursuit toward success, something he plans to duplicate this, his senior season.
"He's got vision that you can't teach," Oak Hill Coach Eddie Souk said. "He's got the vision that he sees what's going on."
For Jones, that ability to diagnose the defense in a split second comes as second nature.
"I try to - instead of getting hit a lot - try to avoid the contact and see what I can work with, and I go out there and look around and see what I got, and it just comes naturally," he said. "It just comes to me and I hit that one step and I'm gone."
That vision propelled Jones to 2,194 rushing yards on 205 carries last season, an average of 10.7 yards per rush.
No matter the down-and-distance, Souk said any situation fits Jones' skill set.
"He's the type of back you want him to have the ball on third down, you want him to have the ball in hands on first down," Souk said. "He's going to get you close to the sticks on first down and he'll take you over the sticks on second down or third down, so he's that type of back that he can make a few moves and make a few things happen and pick up that extra yard."
As most talented backs do, Jones gives much credit to his offensive line for his success. With many returning linemen this season, Jones has no reason to doubt his potential to replicate or even surpass last season's accomplishments.
"I got the whole line coming back, so they help me a lot: open up the holes, making sure they got their blocks, and I just try to use my vision to get out there and help my team win," Jones said.
"I can't stress enough it's not just one player, it's the whole team. The line, they got my back.