Monday, July 23, 2012

Counting down the top Pitt football players of the last 40 years- No.23 Gordon Jones

I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972.  I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion.  The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree.  I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used.  I will add at least one a day, maybe two.  

My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:

1.  Productivity.
2.  Talent.
3.  Place in program history.
4.  Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers. 
5.  No current players.

23.  Gordon Jones (1975-78)- The first great receiver and return man in Pitt history, the East Allegheny alum was so explosive and acrobatic that he was nicknamed "Too Much".  

As a freshman Jones had 22 catches and 4 touchdowns with a 17.5 avg.  Those numbers may not sound great, but remember that Tony Dorsett and Elliott Walker combined for almost 2,500 yards on the ground and quarterback Robert Haygood was more of a runner than a passer.  As a return man Jones shined with a 12.8 punt return avg. and a 23.3 kick return avg.  His 385 yard punt return yards are still a single season school record. 

As a sophomore, the Panthers won the National Championship with Dorsett running for over 2,000 yards so once again Jones had to use his great blocking ability instead of his great pass catching ability. He still ended up with 21 catches and 5 touchdowns, along with an 18.4 avg.  In the Sugar Bowl win, Jones came up big with a 59-yard touchdown reception.  

As a junior, Dorsett was gone and Matt Cavanaugh opened up the passing game enough for Jones to accumulate 45 catches for 793 yards, 9 touchdowns, and a 17.6 avg.  Once again he great in the return game with a 10.0 punt return avg. and a 25.8 kick return avg.  Jones again came up huge in the bowl game as he had 10 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown in a 34-3 Gator Bowl win over Clemson.

As a senior, Rick Trocano replaced the graduated Matt Cavanaugh, but that did not stop Jones from adding another 46 catches, 666 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  

When he graduated Jones had school records for both receptions and receiving yards, and he's still 5th in receptions, 8th in receiving yards, 6th in receiving touchdowns, and 6th in all-purpose yards.  Pretty amazing considering he was in such a run heavy offense.


  1. Much as I'm enjoying this list, duty calls. I feel a little uneasy picking over the corpse before it's dead, but how about a list of PSU guys, both recruits and players, that Pitt could pick up? Man I hope Chryst is up to this challenge. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Pitt to make some inroads.

    1. I'm not going to really get into that until either they make contact with Pitt or vice versa. Everybody else can speculate if they want, but for me personally I'd rather wait. I do feel bad for those kids. I have interviewed many of them over the years and they are good people. And I don't want to accidentally start rumors about them and put even more pressure on them.

      I do know that Ohio CB Ross Douglas who decommited from Penn State today picked up an offer from Pitt today. And it's my understanding that Dorian Johnson is going to look around again.

      But as for Chryst, that's my thoughts exactly. If these PSU kids want to leave then Pitt should do their best to get some of them. And there's no reason why Pitt can't clean up in the WPIAL over the next few years.

    2. I think Pitt has 2-3 ships available for this fall...
      some PSU current players (including frosh) may want to jump at the chance to transfer to Pitt.

      PSU has to get to 65 by 2013 season... and if they want to bring in 15 frosh (the max)... they would need to drop 35 current players by 2013 in order to bring in 15 frosh for 2013.

    3. In other words...
      IF PSU has lets say 20 seniors..
      they still need to cut another 15 from current roster in order to bring in 15 frosh for 2013.

  2. PSU current players have 10 days to determine if they are going to transfer...
    by the time you are done with this list Chris... we will be talking recruiting again... and who of the PSU players and commits that Chryst pursuing...
    I would put Bobby Engram on the job.... today!!!

  3. Penn St. got a slap on the wrist. Think about it. They will be able to play football on Saturdays. They will still put 110,000 people in the seats. They'll still have their white-outs. The students at PSU will not suffer, nor will the players really. They still get to play 12 games. They still get to be on TV. The $73 million dollars is paid over 5 years and I'm sure some very rich donors will step up and help pay that off.

    O'Brien will use the lost scholarships as a selling point. "If we're recruiting you, we REALLY want you!! And you'll be able to get a top-notch education and be able to play early cause we don't have enough players!"

    I don't like PSU, never did, never will. I never liked Paterno, never did. I am a Pitt grad, but to me, this punishment is nothing and they will be in a bowl game in 5 years (assuming O'Brien can coach)

    1. They got a lot more than a slap on the wrist. They will be awful for at least 6 or 8 years, maybe longer.

    2. I don't think PSU will be awful for 6-8 years...

      The issue will still be ability to recruit top talent.
      They just "can't miss" on who they recruit..
      65 ships is plenty..
      they won't red-shirt..
      they can go to a recruit and say... very likely they will get some play time as a frosh even if special teams!!! Think about it.. 1st team, 2nd team, 3rd team.. that is it.

      If some recruits are duds... then the issue is will they cut the player.. now that will affect graduation rates, etc... so, catch 22 there.

    3. Trust me, they're going to be awful. No elite players are going to want to go there because they will be so undermanned that their chances of success are nil. They will be at the bottom of the Big 10 for years.

    4. They will steel all our MAC recruits

    5. So far,
      3 4-star 2013 commits are staying..
      Mahon, Sickels, Brenneman..

      We thought the same thing with the trial and everything yet O'Brien recruited a top 15 class until today..
      They will be competitive... probably 6-6 type of record the next 4 years.
      I say this so long as O'Brien stays.
      It appears O'Brien is a great recruiter..

  4. It is time to pounce!

  5. Bowling Green PantherJuly 23, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    How important are a couple years of punishment? We will soon find out. When you compare the violations at USC and PSU there really is no comparison. Penn State's culture directly contributed to some of the most heinous and disturbing violations in the history of college sports.

    But did the punishments really fit the crimes?

    Bowl Ban: USC = 2 years; PSU = 4 years

    Scholarship Loss: USC = 10 per year for 3 years; PSU = 10 per year for 4 years

    Both schools vacated wins. PSU vacated more wins but USC vacated a national championship and Heisman

    Other differences: PSU = $60 million fine and limit of 65 total scholarships

    While the $60 million is nothing to laugh at, it is only worth about 1 year of football revenue at PSU and they just had their 2nd best fundraising year ever is ESPN is correct.

    To me, the limit of 65 on total scholarships is the big one that will have the longest lasting impact. USC is already recovering from their punishments... I wouldn’t put it past PSU to be bowl bound by 2018.

  6. I think some of you aren't understanding how big of a disadvantage Penn St. has now. Trust me, the Penn St. fans know. The difference between 85 players and 65 players is HUGE. The difference between 2 years of limited scholarships and 4 years of limited scholarships is HUGE. The team is going to be very poor for years and then you have to wonder just how much they will come back. Don't forget that if they are 3-9 or something similar for 6 years, the kids who will be coming into college football in 2018 are not going to know Penn St. as a great program. They are going to know them as that team at the bottom of the Big 10 every year. And there's no reason to think that they are just going to flock back there.

    1. The big question will be (and we will know in 9 days)..

      How many of Current PSU players will transfer?
      That may tell the story of things to come.
      So far, the 2013 class managed to keep 3-4star recruits.

      btw.. Just read... Boyd now has PSU ranked 7th on his list... Pitt isn't even on the list.
      That is bothersome... sorry to beat a dead horse.. but Chryst can't even get on Boyd's list whereas PSU is still on the list..
      O'Brien has a personality it seems... and can sell!!
      Right now... if I were O'Brien.. I would be selling every potential recruit playing time.. they can easily get playing time as a Frosh even if it's special teams.

  7. By the way, Silas Redd is thinking of transferring to USC so their first major hit could happen right away.

  8. Bowling Green PantherJuly 24, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    Nice little article on this morning about Steve Bench, father of PSU quarterback recruit. It describes how dad and son did all their research contacting other schools, various NCAA administrators checking on possible PSU sanctions. They chose Penn State because "everyone" told them the NCAA would touch PSU because it was a criminal not an athletic or college matter.

    I really think almost every one of their recruits had the same mind set. Watching the video of students reacting to the announcement was priceless as far as understanding their mentality. they were absolutely shocked. None of them seem to expect a thing to happen to the school or team.

    And I totally agree with you that the 65 limit is the biggest deciding factor. Other than that, I think the extra 2 years is bigger than what most people think.

  9. Pitt's recent bungling of their own program coupled with the lack of personality at the head coaching position is going to severely limit their ability to attract PSU transfers. Seriously, how confident can they be in Pitt's ability to offer them a solid landing given the recent ineptitude in our football program?

    1. It's a sad state of affairs when Boyd still has PSU on his list....
      but crossed off Pitt from the list.

    2. I dont think Boyd even liked Pitt. From everything I've read, he loves the spread offenses that get downfield, like WVU and PSU have. If the kid doesn't want to play here I don't see that as a big loss.

  10. If Wanny was still the coach (and I wanted him gone) he could have really taken advantage of this situation. Not so sure Chryst can.