Do you remember Dwight Jones?
The fourth-ranked receiver in the nation in 2007, Jones spurned the likes of Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and Clemson to commit to his home state Tar Heels and new coach Butch Davis.
After struggling with academic qualifying, Jones, Davis, and the Heels realized that prep school would be necessary for the wide receiver to become a part of the UNC football program. Thus, in August 2007 the Burlington, NC native enrolled in Hargrave Military Academy.
Jones worked in the classroom, field, and weight room in anticipation of returning to North Carolina for the second summer session, along with the rest of the incoming freshmen. Then, for the second time, plans went awry.
Dwight Jones didn't qualify again—the NCAA Clearinghouse said Jones didn't have the required number of credits to permit him to enroll at a Division I university.
With that news out, Division II schools started calling, and Dwight Jones, the mega recruit, settled on a little school in south Georgia—Valdosta State.
The Blazers welcomed Jones as they opened practice on August 1st. The super freshman thrilled their staff and was quickly made one of the focal points of their pass-happy attack.
Alas, that was not the last wrench chucked into Dwight Jones' football career.
Turns out that over the summer the NCAA Clearinghouse—being the model of efficiency and thoroughness they are—made a mistake in filing his qualification papers. Jones graduated high school in 2007, but the Clearinghouse utilized the 2008 standards to assess his eligibility standing.
The difference? Two high school credits.
Seniors graduating in 2007 needed 14 credits to be eligible for Division I competition. 2008 seniors required 16 credits for eligibility.
This news broke on the fifth of August as Jones was heading into his fourth preseason workout. The outstanding wideout is faced with a tremendous decision—should he stay or should he go?
The Heels definitely need Jones, but he would also benefit greatly from making the decision to leave Division II Valdosta State.
Carolina Still Needs Dwight
Jones' presence alone would immediately improve the depth of the Tar Heels' receiving core. He would also give Butch Davis the big, dynamic receiver that the Heels have been lacking for several years.
Dwight Jones has the ability to step into the role vacated by Greg Little with Little's move to tailback. He could be the target in the middle, second return man, and runner of reverses as Little did in 2007.
Even if redshirted, Jones would give Butch Davis serious insulation against the departure of Brooks Foster, Brandon Tate, and Hakeem Nicks in the next two seasons.
These reasons are pretty clear. While they're important for the program, they pale in comparison to the true reasons why Dwight Jones should enroll at the old NCU.
Dwight Jones Still Needs Carolina
Entering Carolina, Jones has the very real opportunity to contribute as the second return man, as well as the third and fourth receiver.
The move would allow Jones to play on the big stage, nationally televised games for a big name university in collegiate athletics. It also gives Dwight Jones the chance to play against a top tier competition level, as opposed to Division II-quality opponents.
UNC has the strength and conditioning programs, equipment and facilities to allow Jones to improve individually.
Coach Butch Davis knows not only what it takes to be a quality college football player, but to also play at that NFL level.
The academic community of UNC has the resources to help Jones succeed in the classroom. The academic support staff is capable of providing tutors, advisers, and study sessions that smaller universities cannot afford.
UNC has a proven track record in its academic support department. Prep school players such as Justin Phillips and Kareen Taylor have flourished under the guidance of UNC's academic staff and shown that with dedication they can succeed in the classroom and on the field.
Jones also has the examples of Jawarski Pollok and Michael Waddell, two partial qualifiers who worked to graduate on time in order to earn their final season of eligibility.
On the surface it is quite clear that UNC would greatly benefit on the field from the enrollment of Dwight Jones.
However, a look beneath the surface shows that the young man from Burlington would come out the winner in the move.
His education at a top tier university would be paramount as his dreams of the NFL became a real possibility. Hopefully the decision will be made soon, and hopefully the young man will be sitting in Carroll Hall and eating at Lenoir come the fall term.
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