Photo by Derrick Mahone
Dutchtown quarterback Donovahn Jones passed for 195 yards last Friday in the Bulldogs’ season-opening loss to No. 7 Griffin at home.
HAMPTON — Terry Herrod knew this day was coming.
Dutchtown’s associated head coach and defensive coordinator remembers the day he was convinced Donovahn Jones would become a Division I athlete and a trendsetter for the young Bulldogs program.
He’s a little foggy on the exact play, but the moment was an indelible one. Herrod and then assistant Michael Breedlove watched as a flash of athleticism and potential burst across the field during a freshman game.
It was Jones.
“Coach Breedlove and I just looked at each other,” Herrod said.
They’ll be able to see a lot more of Jones the next four years after the senior quarterback committed to Missouri early Tuesday morning.
Jones becomes Dutchtown’s first player to commit to an SEC school since the school opened in 2004. He chose Missouri over Arkansas, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Minnesota and South Florida.
As he sat down with his family Saturday night to watch Missouri play Georgia in its first-ever SEC game, Jones said everything he saw helped confirm a decision he’d made privately months ago.
Even in defeat — the Tigers lost 41-20 — Jones saw an electric atmosphere, an exciting offense and a program poised to emerge in the SEC in the next few years.
“Even though they lost, the stands and the environment was just electric,” Jones said. “I just got a good feeling, so I wanted to go ahead and make the decision. ... I’m just excited and honored that I get this chance.”
Both Jones and Herrod rattled off the reasons why Missouri was the perfect school for Dutchtown’s highest-profile recruit ever — the spread, pass-friendly offense; the raucous crowd; the laid-back, Midwest campus; the SEC competition; and the proximity to family.
Jones is originally from Illinois, where his mother still lives in Rockford. Jones lives with his father and step-mother, who still owns a home in the Kansas City area, just a two-hour drive from the Columbia, Mo., campus.
All of which seems to create the optimal situation for Jones.
“It suits me,” Jones said. “Academic-wise I know they’re going to take care of me. I really like the coaches. And the offense, of course — I could see myself playing in that offense.”
“That’s a great fit for him,” Herrod said.
The only unknown for Jones is Missouri’s wish for him to play wide receiver. It’s a position he’s never played before, but one he’s seem well-suited for as a 6-foot-3, 185-pound athlete with basketball-leaping ability.
Indeed, Jones said until recently his dream was to play college basketball. He led the Bulldogs boy’s basketball team to the playoffs last season as their leading scorer.
But this past spring, the college football scholarship offers began pouring in one after the other. The total eventually exceeded 20. Jones decided his dreams needed re-evaluating.
“When the [football] scholarships started coming,” Jones said, “I realized I’m going to get the chance to go to college for free.”
Now, Jones can focus on getting Dutchtown back to the playoffs. So far he’s been as dynamic as advertised, throwing for 195 yards in a season-opening loss to Griffin and running for 124 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries in a 35-6 victory over Henry County last Friday.
“Now I can just focus on winning a state championship,” he said.