Iowa coaches, players taking notice of Charlie Jones in preseason practices

Jones, a transfer from Buffalo, is climbing up Iowa’s wide receiver depth chart.

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Wide Receivers coach Kelton Copeland walks up to the podium to address members of the press during football media day in Kinnick Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. Copeland and all Iowa coaches wore masks until they reached the podium six feet from the first row of chairs.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter


Charlie Jones redshirted during his freshman year at Buffalo, played a singular yet productive season, transferred to Iowa, joined the football program as a walk-on, and sat out the 2019 season.

Now, after waiting the required year between transfers, Jones is climbing his way up in a talented group of Hawkeye wide receivers.

In his one year of game-action as part of a 10-4 Bulls team that lost the MAC Championship and the Dollar General Bowl by a combined 11 points, he played in every game, recording 18 receptions for 395 yards and three touchdowns.

Before only his second season in the last four years, Jones has impressed his Hawkeye teammates and coaches alike.

Especially with four returning, viable starting options at receiver — Brandon Smith, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Tyrone Tracy, and Nico Ragaini — it may come as a surprise that Jones has gotten a lot of reps with the first-team offense in practices leading up to the 2020 season.

Charlie’s a special guy,” Tracy said. “He’s doing great in practice right now. He’s making plays all over the place right now. I’m very excited to see what he can do on the field on Saturdays. He’s fast and he’s very athletic. Right now, he’s the guy at practice.”

Smith-Marsette noted that Jones has done his part to “push the receiving room forward.”

Jones also returned kickoffs during his only season in Buffalo, accumulating 289 yards on 15 attempts, and the Deerfield, Illinois, native had a long of 43 yards.

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Smith-Marsette is listed as the only kick returner on the preseason depth chart, but Jones could see the field in a different position on special teams in addition to his catching duties.

Jones is part of a receiving corps that should improve from a year ago, when the top four weapons caught 2,189 yards worth of passes on 163 receptions — the majority of which were thrown by the now-Minnesota Viking Nate Stanley.

Smith anticipates another big year from the group of wideouts with new signal caller Spencer Petras under center.

“We definitely have a great group of receivers,” Smith said. “We’ve got different guys that can make plays all over the field.”

Iowa opens its 2020 season on Oct. 24 at Purdue, a matchup where both teams will get to showcase their stellar passing attacks.

Even with the quartet of proven pass-catchers, wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland has been encouraged with what he’s seen from Jones, leading him to believe there is a real chance of seeing him on the offensive side of the ball this year.

“The cat’s out of the bag,” Copeland said of Jones’ performance in practice. “We’re very fortunate to have him. He’s done some really promising things at practice. Is there a chance for him to get on the field? Absolutely.  Does he need to improve on some things at the moment? That’s part of my job as well as his. He’s done a really tremendous job.”

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