- December 5, 2019
It sounds like the script to a movie.
Keyondray Jones — the speedster who spent most of his high school career as an Apopka Blue Darter — transfers to Ocoee High.
Lo and behold, after all preseason games were canceled because of lightning, the first time Jones pulls on a Knight uniform, it’ll be to gash his former team for big yards.
Although Jones — who recently was named the No. 2 running back in the area by Elite 100 Prospects — is primarily a running back, his experience goes well beyond one position.
“My primary position is running back, but I play wide receiver and sometimes can go to the defense,” he said. “I can go to safety, because I am an athlete all-around. But for most of it, (my position) has always been running back. That’s my thing; that’s what I’m good at.”
Jones, 17, first suited up for football at about 5 years old, but he never saw any game action.
“It’s a funny story, really,” he said. “I quit before my first football game. A couple of years back, when I was 10 or 11 years old, I came back and since then, I’ve always been good at it.”
Earlier this year, Jones finalized his transfer from Apopka High School, where he was a part of the football team every year. However, he saw greener pastures in Ocoee.
“It offers more opportunities to put myself in better situations, as far as going into college,” he said. “Getting coaches in front of me, getting into a different offense — because here we run spread out, throw the ball more, so it’s also me showing my skill set more.”
And what a skill set it is. Relying on his speed, Jones is an elusive back with great hands and a sound football mind. He’s the kind of player that can cause myriad problems for opposing defenses.
“My play style is shorter, stronger, quicker, so I can get in those cuts real fast,” Jones said. “So I feel like that’s why I’m considered one of the higher running backs around, because I can make people miss. I am faster than a lot of people; I can catch; I can run down the middle and outside. I can also play defense in a lot of ways.”
Jones said he loves watching Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill, considered the fastest player in the NFL.
“I take a lot of pride in my speed, because I rely on my speed a lot, so that’s definitely one of my role models, someone I look after,” Jones said of Hill. “When I watch him play, it’s more the speed aspect, when I’m a receiver.”
From the running back perspective, Jones enjoys watching play styles from myriad athletes either at the collegiate level and in the NFL.
“I’m just strong and short, so a lot of people can creep up on my strength,” he said. “I feel that that’s what sets me apart.”
To improve his play style, Jones spends a lot of time doing ladder drills, hurdles and squats to build explosiveness.
“It’s a lot of cone drills — got to be explosive, got to move a lot,” he said. “Need to keep working on those quick muscles pretty much.”
Jones can be a versatile player on the field — depending on the team his team is facing on a given day.
“If we are playing a team that has a weaker defense— corners and safety, I may go to receiver, hurting them that way versus running the ball,” he said. “But I can really hurt the defense both ways. I like playing the ball, I feel like me as a receiver, I’m more dangerous, because I can just catch a quick pass and go 80 yards, so it’s like I can really score anytime.”
Apart from football, Jones is also a track athlete. At Apopka, he was a part of the track and field team for his first freshman and sophomore years.
“I feel like every athlete should run track,” he said. “Every athlete who is a football player should do track because it helps you in a lot of ways. It helps with your endurance, your stamina, helps with how fast you can run, it teaches you how to run.”
One of the benefits from running track during the spring semester was that after every football season, Jones would continue moving his body and that would allow him to come back to school on the fall and still be in shape. Also, track taught him form.
“A lot of people are fast but they don’t have great form and don’t know how to (properly) run,” he said. “If you can correct your form, you can run a lot faster. There’s a lot of similarities between track and football, so it can help you both ways.”
However, Jones won’t be able to join the track and field team at Ocoee High School come spring; he plans to graduate early and start college come January.
Since arriving at Ocoee High School, Jones has been in communication with 10 different colleges. Currently, he is a verbal commit to the University of South Dakota. However, he will need to make his final decision during late November or early December. Other schools on his radar are the University of Western Kentucky, Campbell University and Florida A&M University.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “It’s kind of scary, because I don’t turn 18 until April, so I will be in college for a couple of months before I turn 18.”
His dream is to be a part of the NFL Draft when his time comes. However, even if that doesn’t work out, Jones wishes to remain involved in the world of sports throughout his life.
“I would like to be a sports analyst, maybe on a talk show or on the sidelines of a game,” he said. “Just really stay around the game, be a coach, give all the information back to the youth.”
Ocoee High School recently was listed by Elite 100 Prospects as the No. 6 team in the area, followed by Apopka High School at No. 9.