Ty Jones has seen a little of everything going into his senior season at Florida State. He has been through the lows — an academic cheating scandal that forced the school to vacate 12 wins, a 7-6 season in 2008 and Bobby Bowden's dismissal. He has been through some personal low points — maintaining his Type I diabetes and playing through nagging ankle injuries. But now he's coming off his best season and is part of a No. 6 Seminoles team that seeks its first ACC championship since 2005. "It's just exciting," said Jones, a former Middleton High standout. "It's Florida State, and it's about time for it to come back." FSU is well on its way back, enjoying a 10-4 season in 2010 that included wins over Miami and Florida. Jones ran for 527 yards and five touchdowns last season, but what impressed coaches and teammates was his tenacity — he averaged 6.1 yards a carry and was rarely tackled behind the line of scrimmage.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Jones has carried the success from his junior year into spring and preseason practice.
With Jermaine Thomas (migraine) and Chris Thompson (back) missing significant portions of August camp, FSU coaches have been pleased with how Jones has picked up the load.
"Ty is having a really good camp," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Best camp that he has had here by far. Every day he is very consistent."
Jones believes he has been able to keep up with his diabetes better the past few years. He's eating better, thanks to FSU's nutritionists. And he checks his blood sugar before, during and after practice.
But the Seminoles' coaching staff realizes that there are days when Jones won't be able to perform the best he can.
"Ty faces a little bit of something with his diabetes, so he's got to manage that," running backs coach Eddie Gran said. "I know days when he comes out to practice when he hasn't managed it. Sometimes it can just creep up on him, and it's not his fault. But I think, right now, he's managed it the best he has."
What also helps Jones is that FSU prefers to rotate running backs instead of leaning on a workhorse back. While Jones, Thomas and Thompson have different running styles, each is versatile — and usually rested for a fourth-quarter push against a tired defense.
"You have to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield, you have to be able to make guys miss in the hole, you have to be able to run guys over and do things like that," Jones said. "All of us bring that same skill set out there."
That's something Gran appreciates. He has coached Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Rudi Johnson and Brandon Jacobs at Auburn and Deuce McCallister and John Avery at Mississippi. Gran said all but Johnson were part of a running back rotation.
Gran also subscribes to the senior-year theory. He thinks that a player, like Jones, will work even harder knowing that it's the last season he will wear a college uniform — and will want to impress NFL scouts.
"Ty is powerful; he's sneaky the way he runs," Gran said. "And he's really got talent catching the ball out of the backfield. We're excited about his progression right now.
"What I'm looking for in Ty Jones is consistency. 'Can we count on you when it's time to count on you?' "
Jones has shown it this August, and he hopes to show it throughout the fall, too.
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