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Long Beach Poly corner Jack Jones aims to make fans smile, receivers fail

It was the best going against the best at a summer football camp, and cornerback Jack Jones of Long Beach Poly High kept volunteering to face one top receiver after another in one-on-one duels.

Even those who were just standing around and not competing were smiling and giggling watching the intense competition unfold.

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"If I'm going to play DB, I'm going to put my hands on you," Jones declared. "I'm going to let you know I'm there every play."

He batted down one pass, deflected another and got tangled up in a duel that, during a game, might have resulted in a pass interference penalty.

It's clear that Jones doesn't back down. Tall or small, fast or slow, strong or weak, he'll gladly introduce himself to a receiver by giving him a stare and showing off his hands.

Jamming a receiver at the line of scrimmage is what Jones learned from former Poly All-American Iman Marshall, who now plays for USC. He aggressively uses his hands to make sure receivers face an immediate obstacle from the moment the ball is snapped.

He fears no one, takes risks and isn't shy about letting everyone know when he succeeds. In simple terms, he patterns his game after former NFL standout Deion Sanders, who was known for his flash and brilliance.

"I'm not ever going to say 'I'm Deion Sanders,'" Jones said. "I'm not ever going to say I'm better than that man. I was watching a documentary on him and Jerry Rice. Jerry Rice was always a serious guy. Deion Sanders brought a different game. He brought excitement, he brought joy, he brought a smile on people's faces. That's what I want to do — put a smile on people's faces."

Cornerbacks have one of the toughest jobs in football. They are sometimes left alone trying to cover a receiver who knows where he's going. It can be embarrassing when the receiver is headed for a touchdown after the cornerback has been badly beaten.

"That's what the game of football is about," Jones said. "I haven't seen one person in football who hasn't gotten beat. Everybody is going to get beat. It's about if you get beat, do you want to get better? And if you want to get better, you'll keep going with that guy because you know he's good."

Jones keeps getting better. As a sophomore, he learned from Marshall and another former Poly standout, JuJu Smith, who is also at USC.

"When I played against him, he was young and asking a lot of questions," Smith said. "He's a lot more aggressive, more confident. He likes going against the best."

Poly has plans to use the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Jones seemingly everywhere on the field — catching passes, returning punts and kickoffs, covering receivers. He had a 60-yard touchdown reception last week in Poly's 13-12 season-opening win over Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial.

That means is Jones will have numerous opportunities to make plays and entertain.

'Every time I touch the field, I'm going to put on a show," he said.

During a summer passing competition, after making an interception, he returned the ball and did a back flip to celebrate. If he tries that during a game, it will result in a 15-yard penalty, but he's plotting his next move.

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"I can't do it during a game, but I have something else in my pocket," he said.

Twitter: LATSondheimer

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