In the final game of his high school career, Perry Jones rushed for 150 yards on 23 carries to help Oscar Smith complete a perfect 2008 season with its first state championship in any sport. But Jones drew only cursory notice in media accounts.
That's because quarterback Phillip Sims threw for 334 yards and six touchdowns in the Tigers' 54-24 rout of Osbourn.
Now the University of
Sims “has a strong arm, he’s very accurate, and he’s a competitor, all the qualities you would want (a quarterback) to have,” Jones said Sunday at the
Naturally, Sims has leaned on Jones and another former Oscar Smith teammate, receiver Tim Smith, to ease his transition.
"I've talked to him a lot," Jones said. "We actually had a class together. I've been just trying to get him used to the way we do things at Virginia. … A lot of teammates, they've brought him in just like he was a brother. …
"I've been trying to be a positive model to him and all the players on the team. I want to be the person everybody looks at as an example of how to do things."
I asked Jones if any of Sims' games or plays from high school stand out. He described a pass to Smith from one hash to the opposite sideline, 30 yards, on a rope.
Smith, by the way, caught four of Sims' touchdown passes in the state-title conquest of Osbourn.
Jones, who last year rushed for 915 yards and caught 48 passes for 506 yards, diplomatically dodged questions on whether he expects Sims to unseat returning starter Michael Rocco.
"He and Rocco right now, they're just trying to get better," Jones said. "Ultimately, the coaches are going to put on the field who's best for the team."
Jones praised Rocco's progress during spring practice.
"His decision-making," Jones said of Rocco's greatest strides. "He's always had the (physical) tools to get the job done."
Virginia went 8-5 last season and reached a bowl for the first time since 2007. But the Cavaliers ranked ninth among 12 ACC teams in scoring (23.1 points per game), despite standing fourth in total offense (399.8 yards per game).
"We just had too many mental mistakes," Jones said, citing penalties. "Just taking ourselves out of a good situation that could be a momentum changer."
Jones and fellow tailbacks Kevin Parks and
"We have two future first-round draft picks in Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses," Jones said. "So we have a lot of confidence in our offensive line. We know we're going to do a lot of good things this year and I just can't wait to get started."
The question many Virginia fans are asking: How many of those highlights will Sims produce?
"I think (UVa's) going to have a great quarterback," Manuel said. "Honestly, I haven't watched a lot of his game tape. … But in order for him to go to Alabama, obviously you have to be good."
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