By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In a rare decision for an underclassman on the FCS level, junior tailback Taiwan Jones of Football Championship Subdivision champion Eastern Washington has made himself eligible for the NFL draft in April.
Jones, plagued by injuries over the last two seasons, missed Eastern Washington's final two games this season -- a national semifinal against Villanova and the championship game against Delaware -- because of a broken left foot.
JBScouting.com reported that Jones received a third-round grade from the NFL Advisory Board, which undoubtedly factored into his decision. KXLY-4 in Spokane reported that Jones has hired an agent.
The breakaway threat was named the Big Sky Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year and earned first-team all-conference honors. He was a second-team selection on The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS All-America Team and was fourth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award (sponsored by Fathead.com) which honors the outstanding player in the FCS.
In 2009, the native of Antioch, California injured both shoulders and a hand. He missed spring practices in 2010 while recovering from surgery for a sports hernia. This season's foot injury occurred in a national quarterfinal against North Dakota State.
Originally a cornerback at Eastern Washington, Jones scored on an 87-yard run on the first carry of his career in 2009. He went on to rush for 1,213 yards and 15 touchdowns on 162 carries -- an average of 7.5 yards per carry.