One of Wake Forest's most under the radar commitments, Derald Jones, will not remain under the radar for long. A big-time athlete out of Jacksonville, Florida, Jones was a hit with the Wake Forest staff from the moment they saw the talented athlete perform. Meanwhile, Wake Forest fans will likely see Jones play on Saturdays next year.
Jones' recruitment really picked up in mid-summer when Ball State made an offer to the First Coast High School star. In the following days, a host of other schools offered. North Carolina, Indiana, Florida State, South Florida, and Wake Forest all offered the 5'10, 162 pound speedster.
"I just knew I wanted to go to Wake when I got the offer from them," Jones said. "I had to talk to my mom but then I did it. As soon as I got to the campus I could feel it. It was a different vibe than places like Florida State. The team, atmosphere, and all gave me a different feeling plus the academics are solid. I felt like it was the best fit for me."
Jones made his official visit the weekend of Wake Forest's home loss against Navy yet still managed to come away impressed. "The game – that wasn't pretty," Jones said, "but even though we lost, it was a great visit. I like the way the guys stuck together. We win some, we lose some, but we stayed together as a team."
Next year, it may be Jones stepping on the field with his teammates to face off with Navy. That is why Jones is enrolling in January as it gives him additional time to prepare for his freshman year. "Playing time, that's why I'm [enrolling Saturday,"] he said. "They said I have a chance to come in and play next year. They said I have some of the best feet since [Alphonso Smith] came in. Coach Grobe said no pressure but they expect me to come play right away."
Jones is prepared for the challenge and eager to face ACC competition. "I'm going to be ready for play day in and day out in the ACC," Jones exclaimed. "I practice against the best all the time. I played against Jermaine Thomas [of Florida State] and work out with him when he's back. I go against great guys in practice and I feel like I'm up for the task. I'm going go out there and play, that's all I really know how to do."
Jones will work to get bigger in the coming months as he prepares for his first year as a member of the Wake Forest football team. "The coaches, they just want me to get bigger," he said. "They told me my feet were good and gave me the option of corner or receiver and I went with corner because I could play early with their losses there. I work hard every day and every night lifting and then running so I'll be ready to make my mark."
Not just a little mark, however. Jones has high aspirations for his time at Wake Forest. "I'm also aiming for Alphonso Smith's [ACC interception] record," Jones said. "I already told him I'm going to get it. I'm not going to back down from anyone."