During his long-tenured coaching career, Louisville High School head coach M.C. Miller has sent his share of players to the Division I level. This year Miller has another standout in receiver Dontea Jones, who is the latest 247Sports four-star prospect to commit to Mississippi State.
Last year, the 6-foot-4 and 200-pound Jones helped lead Louisville to the Class 3A state championship and led the Wildcats with 43 catches for 774 yards and 11 touchdowns, despite missing three games due to a minor injury.
"Dontea is just a good player," said Miller. "He has the size, good hands and great speed for his size. He's been playing for us since the 9th grade and does a good job with everything. We try to keep sending our talent to the next level and we like to have good leaders. And Dontea is now one of those guys."
Over the past couple of years, Jones has combined for 88 catches, 1,488 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns. And it was actually back in junior high when Miller first noticed his gridiron abilities.
"I noticed him in the 8th grade and that is when I was first able to talk to his folks," recalled Miller. "Back then they were looking at basketball, too, and I told them his best opportunity would be in football. I didn't say he had to get away from basketball, just not to push him to basketball solely and in that direction.
"So his parents kept him in there with us in football. And now we can see his best sport is football."
Despite drawing his share of double teams the past two years, Jones has managed to produce solid stats in the passing game. As a senior, he will be without record-setting Louisville quarterback Wyatt Roberts, however, who recently signed with East Mississippi Community College.
But he will remain the Wildcats' top offensive target.
"He is our go-to man and he's a big target to throw to," said Miller. "We've got to find a quarterback after losing Wyatt and find somebody that can give him the ball. But we should be able to do that.
"And Dontea will find a way to get it done. He already has good speed but is still working hard on his speed. And he's getting tougher, too, and has really worked hard on his hands. He has great hands now because he has worked so hard there."
Miller added that Jones should also carry that leadership torch well next fall, which will be needed since Louisville lost over 20 seniors from last year's championship squad.
"He's a very good leader and a hard worker," said Miller. "You don't get any mouth from Dontea and he gets everyone in line No matter if it is practice or Friday night or in the weight room, you know Dontea is going to work hard."
And on game day, Jones needs that work ethic for his responsibilities on both sides of the ball. With his kind of talent, Miller said they like to use Jones wherever he is most needed.
"He is very versatile for us," said Miller. "His main position is receiver but we played him some at safety last year. He will probably do that again and he could even be a tight end for us. Wherever we can use him, we will use him. That is what you do with special guys like Dontea."