The 2017 Mountaineer profile series continues with redshirt sophomore Matt Jones. Jones has the task of trying to replace three year starter Tyler Orlosky. You never notice who your center is until snaps are bad and players are unblocked. For Mountaineer fans, the hope is they won’t know his name at the end of the year.
Matt Jones, OL, #79
Year: Sophomore (Redshirt)
Hometown: Hubbard, Ohio
High School: Hubbard High School
How he got to Morgantown
Jones, a 4-star prospect out of Hubbard, Ohio, garnered lots of accolades as a high school player. He was twice named a AP Division III All-Ohio Player, an all-Northeast Ohio District First Team player and ranked the number one guard prospect in Ohio. Jones committed to the Mountaineers in February and never looked back.
Jones has the tall task of replacing current Philadelphia Eagle Tyler Orlosky. Jones hasn’t seen much action after redshirting in 2015 and playing behind Orlosky, who just never came out. With new quarterback Will Grier and new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, Jones will be required to pick up the protection calls along the line, handling the snap, and being the leader along the line. It can be a lot to ask of a young player. Jones has the talent to succeed.
Backups: Kelby Wickline, redshirt sophomore and Ray Raulerson, redshirt junior
Wickline is the son of current offensive line coach Joe Wickline. Wickline hadn’t played football a lot, so his father made him enroll at Jones County J.C. so Kelby could gain playing time experience. After playing a season, Wickline fielded offers from a host of Power 5 schools including: Arkansas, Missouri, Cal, Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky, TCU and UNC. Wickline initally committed to North Carolina before decommitting and committing to the Mountaineers.
Raulerson comes to the Mountaineers from Tennessee. Raulerson wanted a chance to play and didn’t feel he had that opportunity at Tennessee. He sat out all of last year as part of the NCAA transfer rules and is now eligible.
2017 Dream Season
Center is the position where everything is up in the air. Jones is the current number one on the depth chart but things could change based on camp. If Jones is able to grab hold of the position and not let go, that itself would be a dream season. If you never hear his name mentioned in a press conference or called out by a referee, then Jones will have done his job. Dreaming of a Rimington Trophy is too far out for 2017.