Jones ready to show off development at left tackle

Those 5:30 a.m. wake-up alarms used to challenge Caleb Jones.

But the IU left tackle is now growing used to life as a Big Ten football player, one with goals to contribute this fall and in the years to come.

Jones is one of several Hoosiers trying to reap the benefits of a redshirt season last fall. After sitting out the 2017 campaign, Jones can feel the difference that a year of development has done for his 6-foot-8, 360-pound body.

“Everything that I did in high school has improved since I’ve gotten here, but the main thing I’d say has went up is the ‘power profile,’ which is something Dr. (Matt) Rhea works on a lot,” Jones said. “It’s how much power you can put out for the size that you are.

“In high school, I had no idea. But here I’ve definitely noticed that as my squat and bench have gone up, my athletic ability goes up as well.”

That’s important for a player of Jones’ stature and position.

Although Jones has been the primary backup to starting left tackle Coy Cronk since arriving in Bloomington last summer, Indiana believes he is nimble and talented enough to play the position well in the future.

During his first year on campus, Jones has received all of his reps at left tackle.

“I think he’s going to be special. I really do,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “I think he’s a different guy. He’s got really good feet for a guy that large. The length he has is different and I just love him as a kid. He’s everything we want. He’s gonna work hard, but we gotta keep pushing him. Still young. He’s a guy that sticks out when we walk out here, but he’ll have a chance to develop.”

Already this spring, Jones has seen development take shape.

To both Jones and Allen, it’s a nod to the work of Rhea, IU’s athletic performance coach, and David Ballou, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, both of whom are three-plus months into their jobs in Bloomington.

Although he still gets gassed easily due to his size, Jones says he’s starting to develop better stamina that will allow him to help on the field, when needed.

It’s part of the growth Jones hopes will lead to on-field reps in due time.

“Those first drives, when I first got here, you know that tempo offense is something,” Jones said. “It was hard to keep up, at first, but I’m definitely getting better at that every day.

“It’s every day, making sure you’re giving your all, but also tracking to make sure you’re still breathing well, that your talent (level) isn’t fading as the drives get longer, to make sure you’re doing your job to the best of your ability.”

17 comments

  1. He is a great recruit from Indiana to get and I hope as he develops and plays other top Indiana players look at him, Cronk, Fitzgerald, Reese, Hendershot, and Jusevitch and figure coming to IU will turn them into a very good football team.

    It is good to hear Jones is improving and I hope he gets on the field and shows he is ready to play. I hope the other back ups are developing too and will be valuable members of the OL this coming season as IU needs quality replacements ready.

  2. v13,
    Solid threat of rain for Saturday. Do you still have your finger on the launch button for the C & C? I’m going come snowballs or hail stones. My Bride is coming with me instead of the buddy who was originally in the plan. She will make the malls work overtime if the weather is indeed poor.
    *Spiral Cane*

    1. HC, I will be there unless they call the game due to rain. It looks like the temps will be good and the rain depends on where the T-storms pop up. I hope it doesn’t slow down the game but I will be there if possible.

    2. Has anyone else noticed how most of the above sentences from Clarion could also work in handwritten letter sent back home during the westward expansion of the early 1800’s? I’m almost fearing the possibility of Cheyenne hiding in the limestone hills of Trail 37 as he moves the wagon(or faux wood paneled station wagon) toward Bloomington…..”Take cover, Bride!”

  3. The value of the work Rhea and Ballou are doing is not only measured in physical performance metrics, but in the self confidence that these players are developing, as expressed by Jones in this article. Half the battle is believing you can win, that you can beat the guy lined up across from you, and that your teammates can do the same. That increased confidence is huge for this team, and if carried forward into the season, will make as much difference as the improved physical performance. I always enjoyed watching Spriggs and Feeney play, in part because you could see their self confidence, and they both had a little nasty in them. Looks like Jones is on his way to becoming a similar type player.

  4. Po, you are right about the confidence factor with players. It is clear with the way the players talk about what Dr Rhea and Coach Ballou are doing they are gaining confidence from them. I hope we see the big changes in players this Fall from the S&C program. We keep hoping to see IU improve in the B1G and go from playing tough against the big programs but to knocking them off. I hope the advances the S&C staff has seen at their other stops shows up here at IU and translates into an increase in wins and losses.

    1. I might would add this isn’t a flat line effort like extra reps for the 2 deep but is a whole team upgrading in individual performance ability. The whole team with more confidence not just in games but also off-season training, C & C game, practice drills, Fall Camp and all practice physical contact. Rolling snowball grows.

  5. HC is correct! If you believe Colin Powell was right when he said, “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier,” than what Rhea and Ballou have provided is an excellent reason for IU’s players to remain optimistic. These players are seeing the changes in their bodies and in their performance metics. If a guy’s previous best bench press was 250 lbs., and he’s now exceeding 275 lbs., his self confidence ascends rapidly and his work ethic is reinforced. And as the others in the group witness one of their peers achieving new levels of success, they’re motivated to achieve similar results. That’s huge for the team’s collective confidence, and just as importantly, it’s huge for recruiting. “Hey, you may not be rated as a five-star player now, but if you come to IU, we’ll develop you into a 5-star player. Let me give you some examples of guys that have recently done just that.”

  6. HC and PO good points and I hope he shows up this Fall as players play hard with the improved performance they have shown this Spring. I hope they show doubters about the 2018 team they can play much better and win games they aren’t expected to win. The focus on power gives them more explosiveness. I tried the way the coaches are teaching the players how to lift and this is what I found out as I try and rehab my spinal muscles. What I found was my muscles weren’t as sore and the rest of my body didn’t get sore as a result. If this is true with the players it is no wonder they are improving. I hope it works for me as I was a weight lifter before all the spinal issues and would like to get back to being in shape despite my age and years of spinal surgery and pain restricting me. If the players feel as good as I did following the workout they are able to work harder and develop faster. This could be a fun season and see the team excel better than expected.

    1. V13,
      At the risk of provoking a lot of wayward comments, I do have a question. Po may have alluded to this but I am somewhat optimistic regarding the potential of the new S&C program. If this thing delivers as well as we all hope, could it possibly make IUFB a destination school for those trying to elevate their potential? If the S&C program is as cutting edge as advertised, I could see it giving IUFB a distinct advantage.

      Obviously the overall FB program has a long way to go, but IUFB could generate a perception of a place to up your game it could be big. There is a lot of talent out there at high schools without big budgets or coaching to train kids properly. Finding these players is difficult and everyone is looking for the diamonds in the rough. Yet if your FB program gains the reputation of being able to take 3 star talent and make it 4, or 4 star and make it 5; the program will virtually sell itself. Seen this type of momentum develop in other places than sports as well as with certain FB programs in their day.

      I know all this conjecture will have to be proven on the field in competition. IUFB would have to improve enormously to compete with the top programs for the perceived top talent, but what if you can compete early on with less than the top talent? To leverage what appears to be lessor talent, you have to have an edge somewhere. Is it possible the S&C program mixed with a few other intangibles might be the concoction to create an IUFB miracle?

      1. I agree with you that this S&C could be what helps our coaches push IU over the hump and become a place talented athletes want to come to and improve their performance. The very top players probably won’t ever come as they are ready to compete already and play at the top programs. However top 4 and 3 star players could see IU as the place to improve with this cutting edge training to become the best in the nation. One of the best examples is Dr Rhea talking about speed training being more about training the brain and nervous system than genetics. The best example I can come up with, there are many, is JJ Watt a mid major recruit that believed he could excel. When he tranferred, Wisconsin benefitted from a player that believed in his ability to change and develop into a top athlete.

        I am with you in hoping this S&C program becomes a selling point to get better recruits into IUFB. Focusing on good solid young men instead of reaching on questionable young men along with developing them into much better players/athletes can be a winning formula for IU. The big difference between IU and schools like Wisconsin, Iowa, and NW is the depth of 3 and four star athletes which are coaches are now improving on. Give this program another two years and I think we will see IU become much better in football.

        The proof in the S&C program, our coaches, and improving recruiting will be in the games on the field. I look forward to this season but especially in 2019 when the staff has a majority of their recruits on the roster. Maybe our hope over the years will become reality once again as it was during Mallory’s years of 1987-1989.

  7. Successfully train over 2 years time 2-3 ‘targeted’ 2*’s every year to perform at 4* level and IU’s recruiting hurdle is cleared.

    1. HC,

      IF TA and crew could pull off what you suggest, it would be better than our wildest dreams. I was conservatively hoping for maybe a one tier jump from 3 to 4 star or 4 to 5 star. If the program could start upping the capabilities of young athletes by a two tier increase, then the sky is the limit. Only thing I would suggest is the IU powers that be, is to get the checkbook ready because you will need it to keep them. Probably wouldn’t hurt to make inquiries as to name changing the stadium as insurance in keeping TA.

  8. I agree with v13’s comments, and I don’t think IU is far from reaching a new, consistently higher level of success in recruiting and building depth, in part because of what we all hope is a superior S&C program, better facilities, and the character, temperament and philosophy of IU’s head coach. But what IU has not had in many, many years, and will absolutely need if that improved depth is to make a real difference in wins and losses, is a stable of highly skilled and athletic quarterbacks. Sudfeld was a good college quarterback, and obviously good enough to make an NFL roster. Roberson was a great athlete and a good college quarterback. But going forward, IU needs to recruit quarterbacks that are even better than Sudfeld and Roberson were. Taking style out of the discussion, and in relative terms, Roberson and Sudfeld should represent the minimum standard for IU quarterbacks going forward. The problem was, after Roberson transferred, there was no one behind Sudfeld with the experience or skills to win Big Ten football games. (I loved Diamont, but he was not a Big Ten quarterback). It appears that Penix and now Dawkins are indications that IU has begun to “turn the corner” in its ability to recruit more high quality quarterback. It needs to continue recruiting higher quality quarterbacks in every successive recruiting class. How ironic would it be if a defensive-minded head coach was able to make IU a premier destination for top-rated quarterbacks?

    1. How ironic would it be if a defensive-minded head coach was able to make IU a premier destination for top-rated quarterbacks?

      I don’t see it as ironic at all…A stronger defense translates to more minutes and more drives in offensive possessions. Stop the opposition…Get your ‘O’ on the field.
      The lack of overall depth could also be a plus to a focal position like qb. Lack of depth can mean attrition ….It can also translate to taking more chances and allowing a qb’s versatility to shine. I doubt we’re going to bulldoze our way against the deep powerhouses of the conference who likely have the quickest linebackers and top run defenses. Risk aversion is not going to work at IU.

      Basketball analogy? Can you imagine how tough we would have been if we would have had exceptionally strong and well-coached defense to go along with the versatility of a player like Oladipo on offense? The stronger your defense, the more multi-threat offensive players shine via opportunity, creating turnovers, and scoring chances coming off of broken plays. A great singular difference-maker on offense loves nothing more than a top defense. Nothing ironic whatsoever.

  9. But what IU has not had in many, many years, and will absolutely need if that improved depth is to make a real difference in wins and losses, is a stable of highly skilled and athletic quarterbacks

    Stable? As in the ‘Four Horsemen’ brought in by Rockne….? Are we that close to being ND Football?

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