So how does a tailback with undeniable talent and blazing speed end up at a school like Eastern Washington? In the case of Taiwan Jones, it happened because dyslexia kept him from landing elsewhere.
He received the diagnosis as a senior in high school, too late to get into a school with a bigger football program, but not too late to help him qualify and remain eligible at Eastern Washington.
“It always made me feel smaller,” Jones told Steve Corkran of the Oakland Tribune. “I was struggling, while people were telling me, ‘You should get this. What’s the problem?’ Now things are easier because I know that I can learn; I just need more help.”
He ended up giving Eastern Washington more help than they ever thought they’d get.
“I’ll never get a player like him again,” Eastern Washington running backs coach Chris Hansen told Corkran. “We usually don’t get to touch players like Taiwan. They’re going to USC and Washington.”
Jones’ speed initially landed him at cornerback, but his performance on the offensive scout team as a freshman resulted in a switch to running back, where he gained 2,995 yards and scored 29 touchdowns in two seasons.
So what will happen at the next level? “He’s going to make those guys look stupid, too,” Hansen said. “When he gets into the secondary in the NFL, he’s also going to make those guys miss.”
If that happens, Jones will make the Raiders look pretty damn smart for taking him.