Redshirt Report: Returning from injury, Jones is ready to make his mark

Class of 2023 Redshirt Report

by Ben McLeish
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Coming off of his senior year at De La Salle High School in New Orleans, Louisiana, Caden Jones was ranked as the 24th offensive tackle prospect in the country and the 16th overall prospect from the state of Louisiana (247Sports).

In his redshirt freshman season, the four-star prospect was sidelined due to a lower-body injury. But he’s “finally at 100% with no pain,” according to Jones’ uncle, Marcus Jasmin.

Jasmin is a former defensive lineman for the Texas A&M Aggies and Detroit Lions.

“He’s like my son,” Jasmin said about Jones. Jasmin was one of Jones’ high school coaches and got to witness his transformation as a football player.

After Jones played defensive line his freshman year of high school, Jasmin suggested that his 6-foot-8 nephew should move to the offensive line.

“I knew with his footwork and background in basketball he’d make a perfect offensive tackle,” Jasmin said.

Jasmin said that because Jones made the switch to the offensive line so recently, he has a lot yet to prove: “I know that his upside is crazy because he’s just now scratching the surface.”

Jasmin commended Jones’ work ethic on and off the field: “I saw the work that he put in and the transformation was crazy.”

Because of an injury that sidelined Jones’ for his entire freshman season, the Gators did not get to see a lot of Jones. But Jasmin said Jones is trying to make up for the time he misses.

“He’s trying to work his way into being the starting tackle this season,” Jasmin said. “That’s what we’re working towards.

In order to do that he would need to beat out two experienced tackles in Austin Barber and Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson (RT).

Jasmin said Jones’ transition to Gainesville was difficult at first because he was so far away from home. He said they are a very close-knit family and it was tough for Jones to be on his own, far away from home.

“But I think he loves it now. We all love Gainesville,” Jasmin said.

The distance isn’t the only adjustment that Jones will have to make. Darnell Stapleton, one of the offensive line coaches who recruited Jones for the Gators, left in February to join the Commanders’ staff.

Jasmin said Jones was upset about Stapleton’s departure. But, offensive line coach Rob Sale is still with the team and working with Jones.

According to Jasmin, the biggest thing that Jones needs to work on is his foot speed. Jones already has the size and strength, but elite foot speed would take his play to the next level. It is natural for players to slow down after an ankle injury, but Jones is working on getting his footspeed back to where it was before the injury.

Jasmin said Jones’ main strength is his reach and hand placement. He said he has great knowledge about when to shoot his hands.

“When they teach him a little bit more about the game and he gets polished a little bit, you’re looking at a future first-rounder,” Jasmin said.

Jasmin is high on Jones’ upside and playing ability, but the greatest praise of his nephew was about his character.

“His biggest attribute is how good of a person he is,” Jasmin said. “His character is bigger than him.”

That’s saying a lot of a 6-foot-8, 350-pound offensive lineman.

Jones and the Gators take on Jasmin’s alma mater, Texas A&M, on Sept. 14.

Jasmin said he was split on which team to root for.

“I love my Aggies but of course, I love my nephew. It’s the one time I wouldn’t mind us losing,” Jasmin said.

Jasmin said he was proud of his nephew for making his own decision despite his ties to Texas A&M.

“I just wanted him to make a decision wherever he felt the most comfortable, he said.

“He has to go set forth on his own path.”

Jones will see his first on-field action for the Gators during the Orange and Blue Game on April 13. Jasmin said Jones is “ready to suit up for the Gators.”

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