As the big guy in the middle, it is Vyncent Jones’ job to read the defense and communicate what he sees to quarterback Adam Schulz, get a good snap off, and then help protect Schulz from surging, charging defensive linemen and linebackers.
A lot of things can go wrong over the course of a game, but Jones has done his job so well, even the most diehard of Utah fans probably don’t know his name.
Vyncent Jones file
Vitals » 6-3, 305, Sr.
From » Sandy, Utah
Of note » Majored in economics. … Father, Wayne, played for Utah from 1978-81. … Played in 10 games in 2012 and tied for second on the team in knockdowns (18) and led the team in pancake blocks (12) and cuts (9). … Graduated from Jordan High School.
It’s a thankless job, but one of which he is proud.
Jones will be honored along with 18 other seniors Saturday when the Utes host Colorado in the season finale. It will be one of the few times he is recognized publicly, which he views as a good thing.
"The only time a center’s name is in the paper is when he messes up or snaps the ball over the quarterback’s head, so I don’t mind it," he said. "Thankfully, I haven’t snapped the ball over anyone’s head."
To the contrary, Jones has been the steady force for a line that has had its ups and downs this year. The line started out strong but went through a period where it gave up 13 sacks in three games.
Through it all, Jones has been Utah’s steady presence, coach Kyle Whittingham said.
"He is extremely smart and makes all the calls," Whittingham said. "He is the one guy who has played solid, consistent football every week."
Jones is tied for the team lead in knockdowns (18), and his eight knockdowns against BYU stands as the best single-game total by a Ute this season.
Jones’ play has been a bit of a surprise, considering he was moved from guard to center this year.
The move kept him challenged, he said.
"Most people think of us as just big ol’ grunts out there trying to move around, but it’s a thinking man’s game," he said. "We’re seeing a lot of different looks, even if it is the same play, so you are constantly having to think and move on your feet."
Like others in the Utah program, Jones feels the Utes’ step up to the Pac-12 has caused more difficulties than they ever anticipated. Everything from blocking defenders to opening holes for running backs to getting wins has been a greater challenge, he said.
"It has been exponentially harder every week," said Jones, speaking like the math/economics major he is. "Teams know in this league how to exploit weaknesses. If you aren’t doing something well, they hit you with it."
That revelation was never more true than when the line was struggling. Jones isn’t sure why the line went from being the most improved part of the team to one of the most suspect areas, but he did indicate the softening in tempo may have played a part.
"We had to get back to doing more of a quick game like we had at the beginning of the year; that was working out well for us," he said.
Finishing without a bowl bid is a disappointing way for Jones to end his career, but playing for the Utes was an experience he has savored. His father, Wayne, played for Utah, and Jones attended Jordan High School in Sandy before taking his football career to the hill.
He isn’t worrying too much about his future just yet, instead preferring to savor Saturday’s game when he hears his name over the loudspeaker in the pregame ceremony, and hopefully not during the contest. All that is left to do is play hard and finish hard, he said.
"The effort has always been there," he said of himself and the team. "If you give the best effort you can, you can’t complain about the results."
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