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Valencia's Nick Jones: A show of hands

Valencia senior making case as one of best wideouts in SCV

Posted: September 29, 2013 11:24 p.m.
Updated: September 29, 2013 11:24 p.m.

Valencia senior wide receiver Nick Jones was a Signal All-Santa Clarita Valley and All-Foothill League first-team selection last year after catching 51 balls for 1,149 yards.

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The transition from Nick Jones’ sophomore to junior year was a tough one.

His father gave him bad news.

The store that carried football gloves that he wore could no longer accommodate the wide receiver because extra-large was the biggest size they sold.

“Now I have to go to Ross or Marshalls,” Jones says with a laugh.

That’s because they are the only stores he knows of that carry double-XL.

Those double-XL hands, though, are what members of the Valencia High coaching staff praise as being ...

“He probably has the best hands I’ve seen,” says Valencia High head coach Larry Muir. “The ball sticks to his hands. He has such big hands and has incredible timing on the ball where the ball literally sticks to his hands like glue. You just don’t see him drop balls or he’ll make incredible catches look easy.”

The 6-foot-3-inch senior wide receiver caught 51 passes for 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns and was an All-Santa Clarita Valley and All-Foothill League first-teamer last season, and through three games in 2013 he has 13 catches for 291 yards and five touchdowns.

One of the first things people notice about Jones is his speed, which with his long strides helped win him a Foothill League 400-meter championship last track season.

It was also an attribute that led to him finishing third place in a poll among Foothill League players as to who the fastest player in the league is.

But it’s those hands that make him a security blanket for a Vikings team with a first-year varsity starting quarterback in Jake Wallace.

“I know where to put the ball and where he needs to be. With that said, I can throw it pretty much anywhere around him and he’ll catch it,” Wallace says.

It’s not as if Wallace is trying to just chuck it up and hope Jones catches the ball.

Muir says that’s something you can get away with at the freshman and JV levels, but not the varsity level.

But if there’s a guy who will snatch a football out of nowhere, it’s Jones.

Jones can’t describe why he’s so adept with his hands.

His teammate Malik Townsend, who played youth football with him, has a theory and it has to do with another part of his body.

“My theory is he has the best vision,” Townsend says. “You know how some people say some baseball players, great hitters can see the seams of the ball when a pitcher pitches it? That’s what I think about him. He can really see the ball and focus it in.”

Teammates and coaches really enjoy having Jones on the team, not just for his catches but for his personality that’s not exactly eccentric. He calls it “weird.”

“I’m not a follower,” he says. “I go with whatever pleases me. If that doesn’t please you, that’s OK. That’s how I go. I live as much as I can.”

For example, Jones loves music and he says his favorite bands are the B-52s and The Bangles.

Find a 17-year-old boy in the United States who favors those retro acts most.

He also plays basketball at lunch with the freshmen, while most kids his age are off campus for lunch.

If there’s a substitute teacher, he’ll speak in a British accent to throw them off.

“Nick’s one of a kind,” Wallace says.

One of a kind in a group in another sense.

The Santa Clarita Valley is teeming with superb wide receivers.

There’s a lot of hype behind the guys wearing red and black at Hart High.

Canyon has had its run of great pass catchers over the last couple of seasons.

Even Valencia — with Townsend, big physical target Jay Jay Wilson and Ethan Yoo — has a slew of great receivers.

Jones likes the spotlight and says it’s meaningful for him to be the best, especially with his competitive streak.

It’s hard to say who’s the best.

Jones, though, has the most receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in the Foothill League from the start of 2012 to now.

“I think they’re all great receivers,” Muir says. “Right now in Santa Clarita there are tremendous receivers. Canyon kids are good, the Hart kids are obviously off the charts. I think we have some good kids. By and large, it’s one of the best group of receivers I’ve seen in years. Nick is in the middle of that somewhere. You can’t talk about the best receiver in Santa Clarita and not mention him.”

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