March 18, 2009

Jones embracing switch to corner

Plans can change in the course of a simple meeting.

After USC cornerback Shareece Wright suffered a season-ending injury early in 2008, the USC coaches decided to call Marshall Jones in for a chat.

"This past season, we were down a corner. Coach called me into his office and asked me if I would be comfortable playing a little cornerback," Jones said. "They didn't say if it was for sure or anything, but I guess it's for sure now."

Jones, a four-star safety when he signed with USC in 2007, played some cornerback in his first camp as a Trojan. Now almost three years later, he's back, trying to master the techniques of a new position.

"Things are going pretty good. The transition is pretty fun. I'm still learning a bunch of things, but I've been watching a ton of film with Coach Rocky Seto," Jones said. "I'm slowly but surely getting the technique down.

"The safeties in our defense don't backpedal much. The cornerbacks do it all the time. There's more one-on-one coverage as a cornerback. There's stuff I need to get more used to."

Luckily for Jones, he's got a template for success to compare himself to. Josh Pinkard has successfully made the transition from safety to cornerback.

"Josh made the switch. I try to compare myself to him," Jones said. "He's sort of a role model for how I can play and help this team. I want to play my game like he plays his."

Jones hasn't made a major impact yet, but after talking with new USC special teams coordinator Brian Schneider, he thinks that may change.

"I talked to Coach Schneider already, and I'm pretty sure I'll be on special teams this year," he said. "That's cool with me. I really do just want to get on the field and play. Hopefully, I can get on the field defense a lot."

Jones could've attended a number of different schools with shallower depth charts, but he's still convinced USC was the right choice.

"It's been tough waiting, but you have to pay your dues wherever you go. I'm still really happy that I ended up here," he said. "I really love the coaches and the Trojan atmosphere. I'm still going to give my best, and we'll see what happens."

That process has already begun. Jones has already tested exceptionally well during the offseason. The 193-pound junior ran a 40-yard dash under 4.5 seconds and benched 335 pounds - 65 more pounds than last season.

"I'm feeling good out here now, but I can't wait for spring. I'm excited for that. It's going to be competitive out here," Jones said. "I feel like this is really my year to help the team a lot. Whether it's on special teams

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