In the clear

Walkersville's Josiah Jones, shown last September.

As a 6-year-old soccer goalkeeper, Josiah Jones longed for more activity in his little world of athletics.

“It got boring playing goalie the whole time,” the Walkersville senior running back/linebacker said.

Jones then watched a football game in person for the first time — it included his older half-brother, Zamarre Snowden — and he quickly discovered exactly what he craved: contact.

“I liked to hit,” Jones said.

He still does, and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to continue doing so having committed to play football for Robert Morris University (Pennsylvania).

For the Colonials, a Football Championship Subdivision team and an associate member of the Big South Conference, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Jones has been recruited to play outside linebacker.

It’s a position that certainly satisfies his hunger for physicality. While playing for his youth football team, the MoCo Lions, Jones started as a third-string wide receiver and moved to running back before finally shifting to the outside linebacker spot that suits him so well.

Even when he has played running back for Walkersville over the past four years, Jones has relished taking on tacklers as opposed to running away from them.

“I hate cutting,” said Jones, who rushed for 677 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior for the 7-4 Lions. “I actually prefer to run someone over.”

Jones said RMU offered him a partial scholarship for his freshman year of college — Jones said several Colonials were granted an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic, affecting the amount of money they could initially offer to incoming freshmen — and a full scholarship for the remainder of his collegiate career.

The Big South Conference postponed its conference football season to the spring.

RMU first connected with Jones in late March, with Colonials associate head coach Dave Plungas reaching out via Twitter.

Jones also fielded offers from Howard, Georgetown and Notre Dame College. In addition to the Colonials offering more scholarship money, Jones appreciated the persistence of Plungas, who routinely touched base with the Walkersville senior throughout the recruiting process. Also, other schools had expressed interest in having Jones play safety, which would have deprived him of playing his preferred position.

“[RMU’s coaches] said they like how I can play in open space and that I can cover so much ground,” said Jones, who verbally committed to the Colonials last Wednesday and is considering education and criminal justice as majors.

Having to adjust to virtual learning during a pandemic for his senior year, Jones expressed more relief than elation, stemming from checking a big item off his to-do list.

“It’s just a big stress relief not having to deal with that on top of school and everything else,” he said.

For Walkersville coach Joe Polce, it’s a future he envisioned long ago for Jones.

Back in 2017, the Walkersville football coach returned a slew of players who had guided the Lions to consecutive Class 2A state championship game appearances. Yet Polce found a way to squeeze a talented freshman named Josiah Jones on his roster.

“Even at a young age, he was bigger, faster and stronger than all of the other kids,” Polce said. “He’s super talented, he works hard. He really is the total package.”

So while several players from that talented 2017 team had already secured a future in college athletics, Polce knew Jones was on a similar track.

“From the first time I saw him when he came to workouts as an eighth-grader, I knew he was going to be a college football player,” he said.

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