SALT LAKE CITY — Kirk Chambers was leaving his classroom at Provo High a couple of years ago when he saw something that explains why nothing Washington wide receiver Ty Jones does surprises him.
“I was coming out of my classroom to get in my car and there was Ty Jones sprinting with a tire behind him,” said Chambers, Provo's co-athletic director and assistant football coach. “He had an old tire attached to a rope sitting out on our practice field. He probably didn't even know that I saw him doing it.”
The 6-foot-4 sophomore will return to his home state to take on Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium as one of the many weapons in the No. 10 Washington Huskies' arsenal. Through two games, the Provo native is the second-leading receiver for the Huskies with seven catches and 153 yards. An Army All-American, Jones also has the most touchdowns (two) on the team, and the second longest reception — a 43-yard pass.
“He’s been great,” said Washington head coach Chris Petersen. “He’s an awesome kid. We just love coaching him. He works his tail off.” In fact, Petersen’s description of Jones echoes what his high school coaches remember from the standout wide receiver.
“He made a lot of those circus catches in high school,” said Provo head coach Tony McGeary. “I’m glad to see him make a few at the next level.”
Like Chambers and Petersen, McGeary isn’t surprised Jones can make those jaw-dropping catches because his commitment has always been extraordinary.
“He had a great work ethic all through high school,” McGeary said. “He really tries to work on his game. Washington has done a great job of utilizing him, and getting him prepared for that level.”
Chambers said anyone who cheered for the Bulldogs knows Jones is just doing in the Pac-12 what he did at Provo High.
“It’s no surprise to the Provo High community that Ty is doing so well,” Chambers said. “Ty is successful because he does all of the little things necessary to set himself apart from the crowd. It was very common to see Ty doing extra wind sprints on our practice field while dragging a tire in the offseason when nobody else was around. He wants it and he puts in the work. That's his secret. He's committed to being excellent.”
Chambers said Jones has always shown a relentless pursuit of his dreams of playing football at the highest levels, even while remaining one of the most team-oriented and humble athletes.
“He is a very well-rounded, caring individual who excels in the classroom and socially as well,” Chambers said. “We’ve always known Ty is the real deal. There is nothing fake, manufactured or manipulated about his success.”
In fact, McGeary said they used to leave equipment out just so Jones could feel confident about the work he was putting in, even if it exceeded that of his teammates.
“We would make sure he had all the stuff he needed,” McGeary said. “Sometimes he’d bring two or three guys, and sometimes he was alone. But that never stopped him.”
Even as he was a typical teenager who loved to have fun, McGeary said he had an acute understanding of what it would take to make his dreams of playing for a Pac-12 school a reality.
“Ty has one of those personalities, well, he’s all about the party,” McGeary laughed. “He likes to have fun. But he also understands that to be as good as he wants to be, he has to put in the work. He has a relentless work ethic to strive to be the best he can be.”
While a lot of high school players change schools, sometimes multiple times, so they can better showcase their talent or win state titles, Jones was always committed to helping the Bulldogs be successful.
“We had a good season when he was here, but we got beat in the first round of the playoffs,” McGeary said. “It just goes to show, it can happen. People are jumping schools thinking they’re giving themselves a chance to be seen, but you can stay right where you’re at in your home town and be an All-American.”
Petersen said Jones is only going to continue to improve.
“He’s going to keep getting better and better because of his demeanor every day,” Petersen said. “He just comes to work, and he’s awesome to be around. His teammates really love him, and so do we as coaches. It’s really important to him.” McGeary said Jones’ decision to play for the Huskies fit him in ways that have nothing to do with his football abilities.
“Ty going to Washington was just a great fit for him — academically as much as athletically,” McGeary said. “He really did his homework before going there.”
Petersen said he’s enjoying Jones’ progress as much as Husky (and Bulldog) fans are.
“If they were all like him, it would be super, super fun,” Petersen said. “It’s fun watching his progress. He’ll continue to get better because of how he works day in and day out.”