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Saturday, March 13, 2021

It’s all authentic’: Former KU football players explain what makes Emmett Jones popular

Kansas receivers coach and passing game coordinator Emmett Jones coaches from the sideline in this file photo from the  2020 season. KU named Jones the football team's interim head coach on March 11, 2021.

Kansas receivers coach and passing game coordinator Emmett Jones coaches from the sideline in this file photo from the 2020 season. KU named Jones the football team's interim head coach on March 11, 2021.

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When KU’s coaching situation was up in the air following Les Miles’ departure, some current and former Jayhawks knew exactly who they wanted to fill the void: wide receivers coach Emmett Jones.

Ever since he arrived in Lawrence in December 2018, Jones has been one of the most popular assistants in the eyes of the players, and that clearly played a role in KU naming him the interim head coach this past week.

Jayhawks posted their endorsements for Jones on social media before he was given the interim tag. And when KU made the announcement that he’d be in charge of the team for now, some important players were quick to voice their approval.

One of the top young players on the team, starting cornerback Karon Prunty, tweeted that he was ready to ride with Jones “until the wheels fall off.” And quarterback Jalon Daniels tweeted at Jones: “The Marathon Continues, Let’s Work!”

With spring practices scheduled to start on March 23, it won’t be long before more players share their thoughts on Jones in interviews. But in the meantime, the Journal-World reached out to a couple of former players to find out more about what makes the receivers coach and passing game coordinator so popular.

Former Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley said he was hoping Jones would be given the interim tag.

“He was great as far as energy (and) detail, and those receivers knew there was no BS-ing in his film room and on the practice field with him,” Stanley shared with the Journal-World. “I don’t really think I can think of a bad thing to say about him.”

Likewise, former KU offensive tackle Hakeem Adeniji called KU’s choice a “good move.”

“I think the biggest thing that he brings — and I love coach Jones — is just that he’s a natural leader. Like, he’s going to get people fired up,” Adeniji told the Journal-World. “And he’s going to hold people accountable, which is so important. I think that’s going to be so huge.”

Stanley and Adeniji played their final college seasons in 2019, Jones’ first year with the program. And they saw how quickly the receivers coach got the team’s buy-in. Jones had a “super supportive” approach, Stanley said, but that didn’t mean his unit didn’t work hard.

“If you’re slacking or not being at your best, he’ll get on you, and not only that receiver room will know it, but everybody on the team will know it. He’s very disciplined,” Stanley said. “But at the same time, it’s all out of respect. He’s not by any means ripping into guys. At the end of the day, he wants what’s best for his (receivers), and now just the players in general.”

Adeniji, who now plays for the Cincinnati Bengals, said the way Jones carries himself also earns the players’ respect. He said that Jones wasn’t really an “old-school” coach, “but he’s going to hold you accountable.”

“He’ll tell you some things, (and) you’ll be like, ‘Whoa, did he say that?’” Adeniji said. “But it’s all from a good place. That’s big. And it’s all authentic.”

“He’s not going to tell you something just to tell you something,” Adeniji added. “He’s not going to sugarcoat it. He’s going to keep it real with you — which you can’t say about a whole lot of coaches.”

Stanley said Jones had a “very technical” approach to coaching specific routes and techniques for the receivers. But it was his willingness to engage with players outside of his own unit that made him a good choice for the interim head coach role, Stanley said.

“On game days he was certainly the most involved receivers coach that I’ve ever had,” Stanley said. “He was always coming up to me, talking to me. Extremely interactive throughout the game. Always looking for things we could attack and ways we could be successful.”

Adeniji said Jones’ voice resonated with players, and he wasn’t the type of coach players would tune out. Jones is a Dallas native who has helped KU land several sought-after recruits from that area, and Adeniji said that the coach’s background helped him connect with people, too.

“I think a lot of players — because of the way he is and where he comes from — I think a lot of people will really feel him and relate to him,” Adeniji said.

Jones hasn’t yet given his first interview as KU’s interim head coach. But on Friday, he tweeted some photos from the meeting when the team learned he was taking over, adding: “What a blessing! LET’S GOOOO!!!! Rock Chalk.”

None by Emmett Jones

None by Kp

None by 𝕁𝕒𝕝𝕠𝕟 𝔻𝕒𝕟𝕚𝕖𝕝𝕤💫

Comments

Brett McCabe 1 year, 6 months ago

Very smart move by KU. This will help the program in many ways through the upcoming weeks.

While I don’t know enough about Coach Jones to have an opinion in regards to the permanent HC spot, this will at least give him some exposure and an opportunity to impress. Matt’s column on Jones included a lot of good reasons for hiring him full time.

For those fans who would like to see Coach Jones or Coach Kane be the next head coach, the clearest path for both of them is with Danny as the AD. Danny is the best AD candidate, partly because we need a person who can unite and rally all types of Jayhawks. In turn, I think Danny would look at Kane and/or Jones as guys who have some KU blood in them, guys who could build upon some of the gains made by Miles in fixing the roster.

No matter who gets hired, I would expect Jones to be retained, and deservedly so. He has shown to be a great recruiter and a player favorite.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 6 months ago

Really? Coach Jones has never called a play in college. He never has defended a call in college. His Passing Coordination duties resulted in being last in a passing conference the two years he has been here. His resume mirrors that of David Beaty. The progression of High School Coach, position coach, extended coaching assignments at major universities. The next progression usually is a coordinator. They had named an interim head coach and changed it. If you look at the interim coach of the new guy coming in, that would have been actually good. He could have let the majority play forward, making critical changes based on experience.

As for Danny Manning being the AD, how? Has he managed a $100mm annual budget for a major university? Has he negotiated a TV deal, sponsorships? Has he built a building? I love Danny and what he has brought to KU, if he wants to become the AD at KU, he needs to start by being within the AD department either here or somewhere. He could really assist the fundraising arm of the program while developing other knowledge to become the AD; however, he is not ready to hire a football coach.

Brian Wilson 1 year, 6 months ago

Sorry Jeff. Not impressed by how qualfied you have to be to be an AD. IMO, the job is cush, a gift from God, a hand out a person that is typically already well off. For all those tasks you mention and then some, you have thre previous years data, budget, contracts, check book, suppier lists, not to mention and you have a staff, accounting department. on and on and on....if you can manage an outlook calendar..and good at math you can handle that part of the job. But a good resume in not going to help with the part that says....you are responsible for the fundraising....finding and influencing millionaire donors.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 6 months ago

Looking at Jones' high school coaching background, that's some serious high school football! No, that's not college experience but, dang, the guy has some excellent attributes from what I am reading. I don't know everything about him but I really like what I'm seeing and am thinking this guy may just turn out to be a head coaching star someday. I really home he exceeds and excels during his "interim" tryout. If he does excel, I will look forward to him leading the Jayhawks back to relevancy. If he doesn't do well as an interim, then we move on from there. My bet is in a year or two we're going to be looking at ways to make sure he sticks around long term. At least I hope so.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 6 months ago

Doesn't it look just like David Beaty's high school coaching experience before Beaty became a WR coach at a major university?

Not sure if you noticed, but our Passing was 50.0% by our starter this year in a RPO offense. The number 1 receiver entering into the season seriously regressed. He might be cited as knowing details, but it is not transforming to the field.

Robert Brock 1 year, 6 months ago

Find a highly-qualified Head Coach and make Jones the AHD/WR Coach.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 6 months ago

Usually an associate Head Coach is reserved for the Offensive Coordinator or Defensive Coordinator that is likely the coach in waiting. To have a WR coach as the coach in waiting seems to be jumping the gun a little.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 6 months ago

Hopefully we hire an AD who is smart enough to give Coach Jones as much audition time as his performance warrants. It’s unlikely that an AD will be hired by the end of Spring ball and there should be plenty to do before fall. Guessing not many HCs worth wanting will be interested in taking over our situation from a player favorite this late in the cycle. We had already lost too many players after last season before Coach Miles left. Can’t afford attrition again.

ADs can also quietly talk with contacts about possibilities without any public knowledge and be ready to pivot as needed.

The last receiver coach turned HC didn’t work out but that doesn’t mean this one won’t.

The next question should be which GA, etc gets elevated to coach or new coach hired?

David Robinett 1 year, 6 months ago

Give him a chance. We cannot do worse than we have with our “Big Name” hires.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 6 months ago

Remember a lot of it is roster build up. Turner Gill devastated the roster with lack of accountability in the classroom. Unfortunately, Weis went down the JC route when he had to get rid of all of the under-performing people in their classes. This created a void that Beaty inherited. Beaty was given time, but in Year 3 he short-cutted the recruiting process with JC recruits again, leaving only 1 person in the recruiting class that Les Miles inherited. As a separate note, i thought, that should have been considered not fulfilling coaching duties, which would have been a fire-able offense. Les Miles filled a decent recruiting class his first year, for having started so late, last year was a top 40 class and this year was at least shaping up. Les Miles was rebuilding the roster based on HS skill.

Although I agree with keeping Jones to stabilize the roster and to continue to assist in building the future, i think the IHC is a leap to big right now for him, especially based on his coaching results as a WR and Passing Coach the past two seasons.

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