When Scott Frost spoke publicly over the past couple of months, he regularly highlighted Nebraska’s defensive backfield among the groups that stood out in the weight room.
Along with that, he multiple times mentioned redshirt freshman safety Cam’ron Jones as one of the members of the defensive backfield turning the most heads during winter conditioning.
That’s clearly reason for excitement among Husker coaches and fans alike, given that Jones was a heralded member of Nebraska’s 2018 recruiting class before his rookie season was scuttled by a shoulder injury.
When Frost spoke at the beginning of spring ball, he had just one day’s worth of work to evaluate, but the positive reviews continued.
“Cam Jones was a bright spot (on Day One),” Frost said. “I thought he started to show us some of the things that we saw on tape when we were recruiting him.”
Jones is listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds, and is thought of as a rangy, athletic player, but the competition will be fierce at safety. Not only between Jones and juniors Deontai Williams and Marquel Dismuke, but also fellow redshirt freshman C.J. Smith when he returns fully from an October knee injury. Guys such as sophomore Cam Taylor (corner) and junior JoJo Domann (outside linebacker) may play primarily other spots but could also play some safety. Then, this summer, more competition arrives in the form of freshmen Noa Pola-Gates, Myles Farmer and Quinton Newsome.
Not surprisingly, secondary coach Travis Fisher likes what he’s seen from Jones (Mansfield, Texas), so far on the field. The key in Fisher’s eyes right now, though, is that “on the field” is only one of multiple points of emphasis.
“I first want to get Cam to understand that without the classroom, there’s no football,” Fisher said last week. “Without the classroom, that (football) dream is no dream. It’s all fake. Getting Cam to buy into the classroom, once he buys it in the classroom, he’s going to make a flip on the football field. (Football) is really what he wants to do. He’s going to make that flip. But right now, to be honest, it’s just getting him to buy in 100 percent in the classroom and what’s really important.
“That’s going to allow him to be who he wants to be on the football field.”
Fisher was quick to point out that Jones is on board and that he’s working on it. This wasn’t a warning or an ultimatum. Really, it’s par for the course for Fisher.
For instance, NU fans may remember safety Antonio Reed's late personal foul against Colorado that preceded a game-winning touchdown catch by Laviska Shenault in the final minute of the game. Asked how he goes about trying to teach players not to commit dumb penalties, Fisher pointed to the classroom.
“Go to class on time. Come to practice and, if your ankle's supposed to be taped, they got to be taped. Have your pad and pencil at every meeting,” he said then. “If we can do the small things right, then when you get put in that opportunity in the game (you’ll do it right).”
That’s the same point he’s making with Jones. A consistent approach to football, in Fisher’s mind, isn’t possible without a consistent approach to everything else.
“Cam, he’s doing a great job on this end,” Fisher said. “Gotta make sure we’re grinding the screws on him this spring on this end so he can flip on that end. He’s doing a great job right now, but this is going to allow him to make himself known.”