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Arizona football: Cayleb Jones is primed for a monster season

Cayleb Jones broke the 1,000 yard mark in his first season at Arizona, and he's probably going to do the same in 2015. And more.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The wide receiver position is undoubtedly one of Arizona's strongest groups.

Aside from Austin Hill, who graduated and is now trying to catch on with the New York Jets, the Arizona Wildcats return all of Anu Solomon's main receiving targets. Samajie Grant, Nate Phillips, Trey Griffey, David Richards, and Cayleb Jones are back for another season.

While this is a stacked and balanced group, its best player is Cayleb Jones.

After transferring from Texas and sitting out for a year due to transfer rules, Jones took no time to make his name known in Tucson. In his first four games at Arizona, Jones racked up 475 receiving yards and six touchdowns, including an incredible game against Cal where he caught 13 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

A hand injury slowed Jones' production a bit as the season dragged on, but he still finished the season with 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns. He was just the fifth receiver since 2000 to have over 1,000 receiving yards in a season -- the others being Austin Hill, Mike Thomas, Bobby Wade, and Juron Criner.

Given how early in his college career Jones put up these numbers -- he was a redshirt sophomore -- there's a solid possibility that he can top that in this upcoming season. Aside from just having an extra year of experience, Jones has made a good impression on Arizona coaches with his work ethic in spring and fall practice.

"It is his second year playing so he has experience now. He’s had an impressive camp to date. He’s a competitive guy and he’s got all of the things you want," Rich Rodriguez said. "What I am pleased about is that he’s serious about getting better. Some guys who are pretty good players are happy just to ride it out but Cayleb is sincere about getting better."

One of the things Jones has done is added weight to his frame, but don't worry, "it is the right kind of weight," receivers coach Tony Dews adds.

"I was at 208 pounds last year and I weighed in today at 224," Jones said. "This is my first full offseason in college because I had trouble with my hand last summer and as a freshman at Texas I was still getting acclimated. I really got to work with the strength coaches and was able to push myself. I saw where being strong would help me during the season."

The added strength and overall improved physical well-being should help Jones create more separation and make him even more of a nightmare to tackle in the open field.

"His route running in the first week of practice has been light years ahead of where he was last year," Dews said.

While the physical improvements are obviously important, it might be the continuity and familiarity in the offense that will determine how much Jones is able to elevate his game.

"There was so much room to learn the offense," Dews added about his receiver. "There were a lot of mental things he could learn and fundamentally he can improve."

Cayleb believes that the work he put in during the summer has him on the right track to improve in that area.

"I think I am really prepared. I feel that I had a really good offseason this summer and I have been in the playbook a lot more. I'm prepared and the rest of our guys are prepared as well," he said.

Jones was already a dominant player, but when you add that to another year of experience and continuity with Anu Solomon, plus an offseason of hard work, it's easy to see why some believe Jones will take that next step forward.

Rich Rod is one of those believers.

"Cayleb has enormous potential," he gushed. "I think he will be even better this year. He is a very talented guy, he works hard and he is one that loves football. I think he can do a lot of special things this year."