Wide receiver from Plainfield gives a behind the scenes look at what it's like being a pro prospect
BY MIKE VORKUNOV
With the 2010 NFL Draft still several months away on April 22, now comes the most important part of the year for prospective draft picks. There are the All-Star games, the long days of training at prep facilities and the waiting while teams analyze which athletes are right for them.
It's not easy being an NFL Draft prospect, but some of them have let us behind the curtain and agreed to be part of a journal series leading up to the Draft.
Donald Jones, a Plainfield native, took the long route to college success. Coming out of Plainfield High School he first spent two years at Lackawanna Junior College. After succeeding there, he moved on to Youngstown State where he set the season record for receptions his senior year.
Jones is rated the 24th-best wide receiver by DraftCountdown.com. After becoming the first player from Youngstown State to play in the Senior Bowl since Ron Jaworski and making an appearance in the Texas v. Nation game, Jones is training with Athlete's Edge in Bradenton, Fla. with former Rutgers star Anthony Davis and Piscataway product Andre Dixon.
POSITION: Wide Receiver
HIGH SCHOOL: Plainfield
COLLEGE: Youngstown State
Here is his experience in his own words.
On training so far:
It's going good. It was a little tough when I first got down here, but once I got into it it's good now
On getting used to training:
It was tough getting used to it. It took about a week getting used to it but once you get used to it, it's the same thing everyday.
On the toughest part:
It's a lot different than playing football, this type of training. As far as just getting your body conditioned, getting your body used to what you're doing.
On playing in the Senior Bowl:
I had a few good practices and I played well at the senior bowl. I got down there late. Everybody reported that Sunday and they started practice that Monday. They called me that Monday night telling me they wanted me to come down. I got down there Tuesday and I started practicing Wednesday. Those guys were about three days ahead of me.
Yeah, my first day was rough but I got into it after that. I hadn't played football since November. When I found out I would be going it was something that I had always dreamed of doing. I guess that was my first step to my ultimate goal of playing in the NFL.
On why he had to leave the Texas v. Nation game early:
I had already played in the Senior Bowl and I kind of banged my knee up in the Senior Bowl. So when I went down to the Texas v. Nation game I just practiced so that the scouts could see me practice. I banged my knee up so that was the main reason.
On whether the All-Star game process has caught him by surprised:
Not really. I kind of knew what was going to happen just by talking to guys who had played in the East-West game so I kind of knew everything that was going to happen
On his motivation of being from an off the radar school:
Yeah, definitely. Everybody from a small school is going to play with a chip on their shoulder. Everybody acts like we don't play football. We play with a chip on our shoulder, I mean everybody wants to prove everybody wrong because if you're not a first rounder then you want to make teams feel like you should have been a first rounder.
On whether he's earned any disrespect from fellow players from the big schools:
No, once you get down there, everybody is the same. Everybody is working for the same goal. Those guys might think that but they don't act like it. We're all cool, we all converse like we came from the same place. We're all working for the same goal.
On whether he watches NFL games different than fans:
Yes. People that are just fans, they watch the game, but if you're trying to get there, if you're real close to getting there, you watch it as a student of the game. You watch your position to see what those guys are doing and how you could improve on what you do. So you watch it a little bit different.
On his motivation going forward:
My motivation is draft day. Everybody wants to hear their name called on draft day, whether it be the first or seventh round. Everybody just wants to hear their name called. That's the motivation for me I just want to get drafted. Everybody wants to go high but it doesn't happen like that for everybody. I just want that shot.
On whether he's heard any feedback from teams yet:
They tell you the round that you're projected to go in but you never know after the combine, workouts and interview. You never really know what's going to happen.