UCLA Football: RB Keegan Jones commits to the Bruins

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 28: Running back Bolu Olorunfunmi
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 28: Running back Bolu Olorunfunmi /

On Tuesday, UCLA football received a commitment from a player who looks to be a potential diamond in the rough, as 2018 running back and previous Naval Academy commit Keegan Jones (Cleveland, TN/Cleveland) announced his pledge to the Bruins.

Two lessons that UCLA football fans have learned about Chip Kelly and his staff in the nine months they have been on the job in Westwood: 1) always assume they are looking under any and every rock to find quality talent, and 2) they feel the need – the need for speed.

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On Tuesday night, those two lessons joined forces as the Bruins landed the commitment of running back Keegan Jones, an absolute speed demon who flew under the radar in the 2018 recruiting class that signed this past winter. So much so that he was a 2-star recruit on Rivals and didn’t even have a profile or rating on 24/7 Sports before last week.


Jones, a 5-9, 170-pound athlete from southeast Tennessee, only garnered one FBS offer as a high school recruit. That offer was from Navy, to whom he eventually committed. However, he never signed with Navy, so he was free to decommit from the Midshipmen at any time of his choosing and did so this summer.

Enter the big boys.

The Cleveland (Tenn.) Banner broke the news over the weekend that Jones had earned greyshirt offers from both Michigan and UCLA, validating Jones’s gamble on himself to pursue a bigger football program than Navy had to offer and allowing him to enroll at one of the two high-end Power Five programs after the 2018 season.

Now, four days after the initial story about UCLA’s recruitment of Jones broke, UCLA has landed his commitment and added his considerable talents to a backfield of the future that is shaping up to leave opposing defenses gasping for air trying to keep up with all the speed the Bruins will have on the field.

Despite being an unknown recruit for so long, Jones has talent that is absolutely undeniable. As the Tennessee state track champion in the 200-meter, he won the state title with a time of 21.10 seconds, more than .25 seconds faster than the runner-up. In addition, he has been timed at 10.57 in the 100-meter and 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Jones’s speed isn’t just “track speed” either; it very much translates to the football field and his sudden acceleration from his first step, explosive ability to hit the hole with authority, and outpacing the tackling angles of opposing defenders all pop on film in a big way. He used those skills to put up over 1,600 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns as a high school senior.

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The only thing Chip Kelly likes more than great speed is world-class speed, and in players like Jones, Kazmeir Allen, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Kelly will have the kind of speed available to him that will have the offensive genius wheels in his brain spinning into overdrive.

Who can doubt that the coach who turned LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas, and Marcus Mariota into rushing touchdown machines has got some special things cooked up for his newest generation of burners?

Furthermore, Jones’s commitment is crucial in the big picture of UCLA’s running back recruiting efforts. The 2019 class out West is not the most loaded in terms of running back talent, with the Bruins only pursuing 3-star Kenan Christon (San Diego, CA/Madison), another track-star back who is heavily considering UCLA but is thought to be leaning to USC, at the moment.

As a result, bringing in Jones as an insurance policy against Christon choosing elsewhere is a huge coup, as the UCLA coaching staff will be able to operate in recruiting knowing there is already a bird in hand at the running back position who will be joining the squad for the 2019 season.

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Jones is a recruit whose talents speak for themselves regardless of any greater context, though, and he seems to be an ideal piece to add to the mix of talent Chip Kelly is putting together as the new UCLA head football coach shapes the Bruin offense of the future.

Welcome to Westwood, Keegan!