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Texas State senior quarterback Tyler Jones (far right), who has started all but one of the past 33 games, chats with his teammates (Daily Record Photo by Gerald Castillo).

Features: Texas State quarterback Tyler Jones is forging his legacy

By ISHMAEL JOHNSON
Daily Record Sports

Four years ago, Tyler Jones wasn’t on anyone’s radar.

He was the sub-200 pound true freshman quarterback from Stephenville who was expected to sit behind either senior Tyler Arndt or spring game standout Jordan Moore. Following his breakout game against Wyoming, he was the young kid amongst a team of 59 juniors and seniors in 2013.

Now his role is reversed.

The three-year starter is one of only 13 seniors on a team littered with underclassmen and inexperience. His relation to the roster is a complete 180 from his freshman season and not to mention he has a new coaching staff to adapt to and a new offense to learn.

“It’s been a tough spring and tough summer,” Jones said Monday during Sun Belt Media Days. “But guys have adapted, guys have bought into the process and I’m here just to do my 1-11th and the next guy does his 1-11th and hopefully we play sound and explosive offense.”

That “sound and explosive” offensive mentality launched Texas State’s well-received #PartyIntheEndzone social media campaign. Offensive coordinator Brett Elliott’s desire is to run 90 plays per game, which would be the fastest tempo in the country. Texas State ran 77.2 plays per game in 2015.

“You can definitely tell that the pace has shifted a bit more,” Jones said. “That’s the expectation we have and the standard is the standard. We’re not going to lower it for anyone or anything of that nature, but it’s been good.”

One of the biggest differences the Stephenville product has noticed is when he looks to his left or right. For the first time in his career, Jones won’t be sharing the backfield with running back Robert Lowe who exhausted his eligibility after last season.

During Jones’ debut campaign behind center, Lowe simultaneously emerged as the Bobcats’ playmaker rushing for 945 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore.

While Lowe shared most of the carries during Jones’ tenure, running backs Tyler Siudzinski and Stedman Mayberry had practice reps. Siudzinski closed out last season as Texas State’s top back after Lowe was sidelined with turf toe. Throughout the spring, Siudzinski and Mayberry have built a better rapport with the senior.

“You play with a guy for so long — three years — and then there are new faces, but they’re not that new,” Jones said. “They’ve been there for two or three years now as well so having Tyler and Stedman in the backfield with me has been pretty good for the most part. These guys work hard, they have high expectations for themselves as well and I’m not too concerned about it.”

Some could interpret Withers’ reluctance to announce Jones as the starting quarterback as hesitancy (Missouri graduate transfer Eddie Printz is in the running for the job), but make no mistake, Texas State’s new head coach acknowledges the incumbent’s talent, especially considering the relative youth on the rest of the roster.

“It bodes well for your program to have a quarterback who’s played a lot of snaps and been in a lot of games,” Withers said. “I think that’s where you start with any team is the quarterback position.”

Entering his fourth year in a Bobcat uniform, and third year as the presumed starter, it’s fair to ask where Jones stands among the history of Texas State quarterbacks.

The comparisons to the likes of Bradley George and, of course, Barrick Nealy flatter the senior, but ultimately Jones wants to capture what eluded the team two seasons ago — a bowl berth.

“For me personally, it (going to a bowl game) would sit well with my conscience knowing that eventually, I would’ve done everything I can for this university,” Jones said.

Jones is 2,123 total yards and 19 total touchdowns away from being the Bobcats’ all-time leader in both categories. George currently holds both marks. The senior went on to say if he just so happens to break some of the Bobcats’ records, then so be it, but it wouldn’t matter as much as leading the program to a bowl game.

The conference sees the state of the Texas State football program much differently, however. The Bobcats were picked to finish 10th in the Sun Belt. That changes nothing for Jones.

“It is what it is, it’s a preseason poll,” Jones said. “You take it however you want. It definitely adds a little bit of motivation, but this year is going to be about us as a team playing fundamentally sound and taking each game as it comes.”

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