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Big day for Callaway’s Jones

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

He wasn’t your average eighth-grader.

Keiondre Jones was still in middle school when he was introduced to his future head football coach at Callaway High, Pete Wiggins.

“I remember the first time coach (Kerry) Woodard said come over and take a look at KJ,” Wiggins said. “So I came over to the middle school, I got out, and KJ walked out of the gym. I couldn’t believe his stature, just standing next to him. At that time, he was 6-foot-3, 290 pounds, and wore a 17 shoe.”

Soon enough Jones was at Callaway, and he stepped right into a starting role as an offensive lineman, and he has remained a fixture on the line since that 2015 season.

Jones has earned countless accolades and honors over the years, and he has one of the state’s most heavily recruited offensive linemen since he was a freshman.

In recognition of everything Jones has accomplished at Callaway, both on the field and off, he has been selected as an Under Armour All-American, and he’ll play in an all-star game in Orlando on Jan. 3.

Representatives from Under Armour visit each of the schools to hold a jersey presentation ceremony for each of the All-Americans, and it was Jones’ turn on Thursday morning.

With his teammates, friends, family members and coaches there to share the moment with him, Jones was presented with a jersey with the number 19 on it.

“I’m the one getting it, but it’s my teammates holding me accountable every day, making me work,” said Jones, who plans on signing with Auburn. “Some days I don’t want to go to work, but my momma, my family, my coaches (push me). It’s really more a testament to them than to me.”

Jones is the only offensive linemen who has started for four years at Callaway since Wiggins became the head coach in 2005, and that’s noteworthy considering how many outstanding men have occupied that position over the years.

“I’m really proud of KJ, his work ethic, the way he represents our jersey,” Wiggins said. “I know it’s been a life-long dream of his to get to play in the Under Armour game. And he’s worked extremely hard to get here.”

Wiggins added that “he’s a great player on the field, but off the field, he represents our school, he represents our team as well as you can.”

Robbie Adams, who has been Callaway’s offensive-line coach the past two seasons, said Jones is “a very good kid, a very smart kid.”

“He’s the kind of kid you want to have around,” Adams added. “He knows the game of football. He gives you everything he has. He’s just awesome to be around.”

One of Jones’ most ardent advocates of the years has been Kerry Woodard, who coached him at Callaway Middle School.

Woodard was there on Thursday, beaming as he watched someone he is so close to honored as one of the country’s top players.

“He would just come into my office each day, and we’d hang out,” Woodard said. “I’d take him to different places, and he’d ride with me to high-school games. He’s a good player, but the number one thing is he’s a great person.”

Jones credits Woodard for helping keep him on the track during his middle-school days.

“When I was in middle school, he was one of the ones that kept me in track, and reassured me that I could be what I want to be,” Jones said. “I really appreciate that from him.”

Jones’ number one supporter is his mother, Antrenise Broughton, and she has been with him every step of the way.

For Jones, seeing the effort that his mother has put in on his behalf has provided plenty of motivational fuel over the years.

“I’ll try to do what I can for her,” Jones said. “Just seeing what she’s done for me, all the sacrifices she’s made for me, all the work. I know sometimes she’s tired, and she finds a way to get through it. Some days it’s hard, but I think about her.”

Jones is looking forward to the all-star game in January where he’ll get the opportunity to test himself against other elite players.

“Once I get down there (to Orlando), nobody cares if I’m one of the top guards,” Jones said. “I’ll have to prove myself all over again, and it’ll be the same thing at Auburn.”

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