Iowa State wide receiver Deshaunte Jones relishes final game as a Cyclone
By Zach Seifter, Florida Citrus Sports
ORLANDO, Fla. — It didn’t take long for him to make his decision.
Deshaunte Jones’ official visit to Iowa State came on Jan. 29, 2016. He was a Cyclone by Feb. 1.
“I remember I came up on official visit, it was the last visit of the weekend, and I still didn’t really know where I was going to school,” Jones said Tuesday morning at Camping World Stadium before the Cyclones held their first Camping World Bowl practice since arriving in Orlando Monday afternoon. “And once I got out here, coach Campbell basically was like, ‘Man, this is the place you should be.’”
The 5-foot-10 receiver out of Cincinnati had seven official offers, including multiple from Power 5 football programs, including Wisconsin and West Virginia. He’d also been a target of Campbell’s when the fourth-year Cyclones head coach was still at Toledo. The Cyclones hired Campbell in November 2015, and ultimately Campbell was able to convince Jones to follow him to Ames, as well.
Jones found success early on, hauling in 37 catches for 536 receiving yards and six touchdowns as a freshman. The effort made him one of the most productive first-year wideouts in the country, and over the next two seasons, Jones caught another 71 passes for 639 yards. But it was this year that the senior truly broke out, with 72 catches for 832 yards and two scores, including a season-high 144 yards in a win over Texas in November.
His contributions has helped the Cyclones to a 7-5 season and a third straight bowl appearance, including the team’s first Orlando bowl trip, for Saturday’s game against No. 15 Notre Dame. However, Jones’ leadership both on and off the field have arguably been his biggest contribution to Iowa State during his career at the school.
“He’s so quiet, but he’s kind of that quiet leader, you know?” Campbell said of Jones’ leadership Tuesday. “And he’s a guy that is confident. I think he’s done everything in his power to be the best version of him he can be, and I think guys have seen that … young players have seen that, and they’ve been able to rally around that.”
One of those young players is Deshaunte’s brother, Keontae, a member of the Cyclones’ secondary. Additionally, the elder Jones’ connection with sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy has played a huge role in Iowa State’s growth in recent seasons.
That bond is also one of the main reasons Iowa State made its way to the Camping World Bowl, where Jones will play his last game in cardinal and gold in just a few days. And while he’s not feeling too emotional just yet, he knows the flood is coming.
“I don’t think it really has hit me yet that this is my last game,” Jones said. “But I’m pretty sure after the game it will probably hit me harder.”
Whether he’s ready or not, Jones’ four-year journey as a Cyclone comes to a close on Saturday. All of the work, all of the sweat and all of the emotions will be in the past once the clock hits zero.
Regardless of the result, however, one thing is for sure: His last-second decision to go to Iowa State will go down as one of his best.