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Virginia’s Perry Jones doesn’t leap tall buildings; he just runs well

- - Thursday, December 29, 2011

ATLANTA — Perry Jones took time out from bowl preparation in December to watch his younger brother, Zack, win a high school title.

He says that Zack, a junior receiver at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Va., who has a scholarship offer from Virginia, is an even better football player than him. However, in true big brother fashion, Perry says that he's still faster.

"We'll probably have a race when I get home after the game, just to confirm that," he said.

The elder Jones has showed off that speed all season for the Cavaliers, and his nickname, "Superman," never has seemed more appropriate.

Coach Mike London said before the season that he envisioned Jones as a 1,000-yard rusher this year, but that seemed to sell his versatility short.

Jones has 883 yards on the ground, meaning he could still hit 1,000 against Auburn in Saturday's Chick-fil-A Bowl, but his overall numbers already are there, including 416 yards receiving and a 37-yard touchdown pass.

"Being able to run the ball is a strength of ours," London said. "But having a guy like Perry Jones who can run the ball and also catch the ball has provided a weapon for us."

Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor first started dreaming up new ways to use Jones after a win against Indiana, where he said putting the back in mismatches against linebackers won the game for the Wahoos.

"That day, I thought this is someone special we have here," Lazor said. "I'm a bit old-fashioned, but to me, the reason why it happens is not a surprise. It's because he [works hard] every single day."

Perry also is working to keep Zack on track through the recruiting process, and is trying to instill the importance of academics in him.

After his freshman year, Perry was warned by London that if he didn't bring his grades up, his playing status would be in jeopardy.

"My first semester was really rough," Jones said. "I didn't understand how strenuous the college workload was, and I was on academic warning after my first semester. But ever since then I've been having good grades. One thing I've learned is that football is No. 2. Academics is first."

Read Michael Phillips’ blog at: http://www2.timesdispatch.com/list/sports-college-uva/