By: Logan Newman, USA TODAY High School Sports | November 13, 2018
Last year, Austin Jones finished just 33 yards shy of breaking the 2,000 rushing yards barrier.
Barring heroic performances as the season winds down, he won’t get that close this year. It’s due to external reasons, though.
“There was a couple games we had to miss to fires,” he said.
The fires in northern California impacted the air conditions around Bishop O’Dowd High School (Oakland, Calif.), costing the team a couple games and Jones important time in his most efficient season yet.
Through 10 games, he has rushed for 1,530 yards on just 150 carries. Last year, he rushed 322 times. If he could somehow keep up that 10.2 yard-per-carry average over that length, he wouldn’t have just got passed the 2,000 yard mark; he would have destroyed the 3,000.
It’s unreasonable to assume he could maintain that consistency over 300-plus carries, but his dominance this year has not gone unnoticed. He was selected to play in the All-American Bowl and received his jersey on Tuesday at the All-American Bowl Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance.
“Growing up, I always wanted to play in these games, play on TV and play against the top competition,” Jones said. “To do that, that’s just crazy to me. It’s always been a dream of mine.”
Jones remembers watching NFL players such as DeSean Jackson play in the game. He also saw his friend Camilo Eifler, who graduated from Bishop O’Dowd last year and now plays at Illinois, go through the process as a senior.
“I just watched it a bunch of times, dreaming that I would be in this game,” Jones said.
Jones is quick, changes direction sharply with the ball and can go up and catch the ball over defenders on deep routes. But it’s not just his 1,846 all-purpose yard year that’s made him so desirable.
He’s also an every-down defensive player, manning the cornerback position.
Jones has 27 tackles, one defended pass and a forced fumble. He said he’s only allowed a few catches this season.
“I’m just a baller. I just go out there and I compete every down, every play,” he said.
The four-star athlete, ranked the No. 5 running back in the country and No. 16 player in California, committed to Stanford near the end of June. He had offers from 28 schools, including every Pac-12 school except USC.
His choice of Stanford went beyond the playing field, though.
Jones said the academics was a big draw for him, as it gives him potential to find a suitable career path if football doesn’t work out.
He’s planning to pursue computer science.
“I’ve just really taken a liking to computers,” he said. “I just thought, like, that’s where the world’s going, so I might as just well get on it.”