Jones soon to be a Bearcat |

Jones soon to be a Bearcat

File PhotoTruckee quarterback Robert Jones releases a pass during the 3A state championship game against Virgin Valley in November. Jones will be trying out for the quarterback position at University of Willamette starting in August.

Truckee High, judging by the numerous all-state academic team awards it has won in recent years, pumps out intelligent athletes.

Robert Jones is one of them.

Thanks in large part to his smarts ” in addition to his athleticism ” the quarterback will be furthering his football career at University of Willamette in Salem, Ore., this fall.

“Robert is a great leader,” said Truckee football coach Bob Shaffer. “He has a lot of confidence in his ability, and he’s a smart kid who will pick things up quickly.

“Once he grasps what they’re trying to teach him, I think he’ll do fine.”

Jones, who led the Wolverines to their second consecutive Nevada 3A state title last season, said he did not plan on playing college football until his father Tom suggested the idea.

Specifically, the elder Jones pointed him towards Division III Willamette University, which, according to its Web site, is the oldest college on the West Coast ” established in 1842.

The prestigious university required a SAT score of at least 1200 to even get on a waiting list 280 hopeful students long, Jones said. Jones scored 1280.

After filling out a recruitment form online and sending game film and high school transcripts, Bearcats head coach Mark Speckman invited Jones on a four-day recruiting trip during ski and skate week in February.

Speckman and the college’s admissions department then offered Jones an opportunity to retake his SAT. Jones was told he could bypass the waiting list if he scored 1400 or better.

Retaking the test in mid-April, Jones scored 1400 on the dot.

The accomplishment did wonders for peace of mind, Jones said, and he now he looks forward to the start of training camp on Aug. 13.

“I’m more excited than anything. I was more nervous when I wasn’t sure where I was going,” Jones said. “Once I found out it took a lot of pressure off.”

What’s better, Jones said about half of his tuition will be covered through scholarships and grants.

In his first year as starting quarterback for the Wolverines ” Paul Tierney was the starter on the 2004 championship team ” Jones completed 77 of 154 pass attempts for a total of 1,502 yards. A cornerback his junior season, Jones threw 15 touchdown passes his senior year and was intercepted 11 times. He fumbled just once.

“He did a good job of taking care of the football and running the offense,” Shaffer said, adding that his strength lie in his leadership ability. “When he walked into the huddle people got quiet and listened to him and followed his direction.”

Jones said he’ll miss his high school football career.

“Truckee football has been such an experience, especially winning back-to-back state titles. It’s something to cherish,” he said. “As the year went on it got easier and easier. It was fun leading the team to state.”

If Jones finds he is not as high as he would like to be on the quarterback depth chart at Willamette, Speckman told him he will have the chance to tryout at cornerback.

At 5-11 and 160 pounds, Jones is trying to swell up 10 to 15 pounds before leaving for camp in August. To do so, he is working out with a personal trainer, lifting weights three days a week and speed training two days. And he is always tossing a ball around, he said.

“I’m really going to miss Truckee football,” Jones said, “but I’m so glad I have a chance to play college football.”

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