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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 09 2010

Runner with purpose: EWU's Jones has had a big year

The accolades are starting to pile up for Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones. During the season, so did the yards.

The junior was named to the American Football Coaches Association All-American team earlier this week. He ran for 1,512 yards, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. He’s second in all-purpose yards in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

Jones averaged almost 200 yards in rushing, receiving and return yards for the Eagles, who host North Dakota State in the second round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday.

Not bad for a player who was a cornerback two years ago.

“As long as I was playing football, I didn’t mind playing any position,” Jones said. “I thought I had a good future playing corner, but the coaches are good at eying things and I thought I would be better at offense.”

He was a star running back in high school in the San Francisco area, so EWU head coach Beau Baldwin said he knew the ability to carry the ball was there. But a total of 2,728 yards over the last two years are more than any Eagle coach imagined.

“We never knew he would flourish like he has,” Baldwin said. “You can’t predict that.”

Jones had 332 all-purpose yards in the season opener at the University of Nevada, the same team that knocked off Boise State two weeks ago. He ran for 149 yards and had an 82-yard touchdown reception.

“As we look at the season, the goal is winning games,” he said. “Wherever the coaches need me, I’m willing to do it. Receiving or running the ball, it doesn’t matter just as long as I’m out there. I care less and less about individual stats.”

That goes for his position switch, too. Jones would have been behind four senior running backs two years ago, Baldwin said, so that prompted playing him at cornerback. He missed part of that season with a broken fibula, but finished with 54 tackles in seven games including one game with 15 tackles. He also blocked two kicks.

“But had I known he would have been this effective, we might not have done that,” Baldwin said of moving Jones to cornerback. “We needed a starter at corner at the time.”

Baldwin says Jones presents a possibility of scoring every time he touches the ball along with getting the tough yards. He has a season long run of 77 yards.

“He’s developed into a more true running back,” Baldwin said.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970).

He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia