Take a look at the highlight tapes of Ronald Jones II — a 2015 Oklahoma State running back commitment —and you’ll see the 4.41-second 40-yard dash speed that allowed him to thrash opposing defenses during his junior season at McKinney North High School in Texas.
You’ll see the quick cuts and downhill style that helped him run for 2,406 yards and 39 touchdowns. You’ll also see a dose of physicality that helped the four-star recruit become one of the nation’s most sought-after tailbacks and attracted offers from Alabama, Notre Dame and USC, among many others.
But the part that matters is what you can’t see.
It’s a dog tag Jones keeps stashed under his shoulder pads bearing his father’s name, Ronald Jones.
It’s a large part of what fueled Jones’ rapid transition from young talent to high school superstar. It’s an even bigger part of what made Jones a person his coach, Mike Fecci, raves about.
“I’m not paying out lip service — he generally does care more about others than he does himself,” Fecci said. “He just wants to be another guy, and because of that his teammates respect him and his teammates love him. He could be the other way, and then his team would love him on a Friday night and hate him on a Saturday morning. That’s not the case.”
Entering Jones’ sophomore year, Fecci knew he had a gifted athlete, but with two senior running backs on the team, Jones had a limited role.
And Jones admits he had a reputation for missing practice, not paying attention in class and generally lacking focus.
When Jones’ father died of an unexpected heart attack midway through his sophomore year, that all changed.
Jones was away from the team for two weeks dealing with the death and attending his father’s military funeral. He missed a third game as he got reacclimated with football.
Not long after his return, something clicked.
“Week Nine, Week 10 of his sophomore year, I think he rushed for like 200 yards on about eight carries and had four touchdowns,” Fecci said. “That’s when we were like, ‘Yeah, there he is.’”
Said Jones: “(My dad) was in and out of my life throughout high school and middle school, but when the heart attack happened, I started playing for him. He motivated me to actually go to classes and go to practice and work even harder. When I run the ball, I run for him.”
It changed Jones’ perspective at home, too. Jones is the second-oldest of five children. His older sister is a junior at OSU.
Jones said he realized how hard it was for his single mother to raise four kids, and he took it upon himself to help with cooking dinner, taking his younger siblings to school or doing whatever he could.
“I definitely had to step up,” he said. “I had to stop being lazy. I saw my mom, she was struggling, so I had to help out.”
And after bursting on the scene with that first big game, Jones never turned back.
By the end of Jones’ junior season, he was ranked the top running back in Texas, and had offers from several major programs.
Fecci, though, said the attention didn’t change Jones like it has others he’s coached.
A small but telling example: The team had a set time to go sell coupon cards for its fundraiser. Jones was busy with tutoring for an upcoming math test.
Fecci told him not to worry about it, but as soon as Jones finished, he called Fecci and asked if he could help.
Again, Fecci told him no. It was 5:30. The team was set to be done at 6.
That didn’t stop Jones from coming up to Fecci’s office.
“He came in, he got five cards, he walked out, went to a few houses, and probably because he’s Ronald Jones, he sold all five,” Fecci said. “It just impressed me because he didn’t have to do that. He told me he doesn’t want anybody to think he’s better than anyone else.”
Jones, who has grown to more than 6 feet tall and 190 pounds this offseason, said he still has schools calling him, but is firm in his commitment to OSU.
He said he likes the coaching staff, the offense and of course, the uniforms. He also said he loves the familiarity he has with the campus through his sister.
Now, the OSU community might want to start getting familiar with him.
“The more I talk to recruiters, what sets him apart is he does things right,” Fecci said. “You can’t miss the athletic ability and top-end speed and the ability to be a home-run hitter. What sets him apart is his attitude.”