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Formerly Spurned, Kliff Kingsbury Gets Josh Jones on Draft Night

When Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury was in that role at Texas Tech, he recruited tackle Josh Jones. But was told no.

When Josh Jones was just a high school tackle prospect out of Richmond (Texas) Fort Bend Bush High, then-Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury wanted him on the Red Raiders' roster. 

The two developed a connection before Jones — who was ranked as a three-star tackle in the 247Sports Composite Rankings as the No. 954 overall recruit, No. 100 tackle and No. 121 prospect in Texas in the 2015 class — amassed 14 scholarship offers. His recruitment inevitably took him elsewhere.

It took him to Houston, where he blossomed into becoming the Arizona Cardinals', where Kingsbury is now the head coach, No. 72 overall pick in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

"He told me no, I do remember that," Kingsbury said in relation to what he remembers from recruiting Jones. "But no, you could tell he was an athletic player. He had great focus. Even then, you could tell he wanted to be a good player. You've just see him grow up. Talking to his O-line coach this year, talking to (Houston head coach) Dana Holgorsen, to watch them have a tough year and the way he handled it and was a leader and was professional and kept doing his job to the best of his ability; it goes a long way. Really happy to get to work with him after he turned me down initially."

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Jones was initially expecting to be selected higher in the draft. A fast riser on draft boards, he was projected to go anywhere within the first two rounds. Some concerns about his performance in the Senior Bowl as well as less-desirable numbers at the Scouting Combine may have contributed to his slide. 

At the end of the day, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim went with the best available player on the board in his evaluation and drafted Jones, who he had pegged as a top-30 prospect. And Jones is beaming at the chance to play for a coach who saw potential in him from an early age.

"(Kingsbury) did recruit me out of Fort Bend Bush High School. He offered me early, I think my third or fourth offer, Texas Tech was like my fifth offer. So, I knew from there he had interest in me from back then. And then the o-line coach that was at Texas Tech actually actually ended up being my O-line coach here my final year at Houston. He coached under Coach Kingsbury. So, I knew some type of tie between those two guys. They have a good relationship so I was getting feedback from my coach and what Coach Kingsbury thought about me.

"I didn't have any idea (about why I slid). I talked to a lot of teams a lot throughout this process, so I couldn't really get a gauge on who was really going to pull the trigger. I just knew my O-line coach had connections, had the connection with Coach Kingsbury. Him knowing me already, recruiting me since high school (helped)."