This afternoon we traveled out to Boone, North Carolina for this edition of "Under The Gun" with Ryder and Utah Jones. Ryder and Utah are the son of Billy Jones who is the new head baseball coach at Appalachian State University. They came to North Carolina in early July from Oklahoma, where Coach Jones served as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State University since 2005. The Jones duo attend Watauga High School, where they will be directed by legendary skipper Pete Hardee.
Name: Ryder Jones
High School: Watauga
College Commitment: Stanford
Name: Utah Jones
High School: Watauga
College Commitment: Uncommitted
How has the move been from Oklahoma to Boone, North Carolina since your father was named the Head Baseball Coach at Appalachian State University?
Ryder- It was tough leaving friends and an area we lived in for eight years, but it has been very enjoyable seeing my dad live out his dream of being a college head coach.
Utah- The move has been very well here to Boone. We both obviously miss our good friends back in Oklahoma but we want to support our fathers’ dreams as being a head coach.
What's the biggest difference from Oklahoma and North Carolina?
Ryder- No doubt, the weather.
Utah- To me the biggest difference so far has been the weather. Back in Oklahoma in the winter time you might see a little bit of snow here and there, but here the snow comes often. It’s alot colder here too.
Growing up having a father as a college baseball coach, how has that helped you developed in the game?
Ryder- My father being a college baseball coach has allowed me to train at a field/facility anytime I would like.
Utah- For one, he knows pretty much everything about the game and passes it along to me. One big thing is with him being a college baseball coach is that I get to go to the field all the time and be around the players and I get a real understanding of what the college baseball experience will be like. He has helped me develop my skills defensively and offensively and he always tells me that “someone, somewhere, is getting better right now, so let’s work”.
What are the expectations for Watuaga High School this season?
Ryder- Win State!
Utah- My expectation this year is the same as it is every year. To win! And I truly believe this team can win it all.
What's one part of your game you have really focused on this past offseason?
Ryder- I have focused on foot speed and glove work.
Utah- My defense! I'm always taking groundballs, working on my backhand and forehand. I want to be known as a defensive specialist.
Utah, describe what Ryder brings to the table as a baseball player?
Ryder brings everything to the game wow! He hits like an animal, his defense is amazing, and he can throw 90+ mph. He's an all-around amazing player.
Ryder, describe what it's like having a younger brother like Utah who loves the game of baseball?
It's great to be able to take my knowledge and pass it down to my younger brother. I wish nothing but the best for him and it's been great mentoring him through the years!
Describe your sibling outside of baseball...
Ryder- Utah is a caring guy who loves to sing! He sings in the shower, he sings in the kitchen, that kid can belt a tune!
Utah- Ryder is an extremely hard working person. He's always trying to be better than he was the day before. He's also a very caring and funny person!
What's the best advice your father having ever since you as a father figure not a baseball coach?
Ryder- My father always told me that you always want to “Win the day”, meaning live each day one day at a time!
Utah- My father has always told me to be the best I can be in everything I do, cause if you don’t do your best you're wasting your time
What's your most memorable game up to this point of your career?
Ryder- My most memorable game had to be winning the state high school regional back in Oklahoma, and being a part of the dog pile with my teammates.
Utah- My most memorable game is when we won the State Championship game in extra innings in 2006. We dog piled on the pitcher’s mound after the last strike-out.
What's your favorite memory of playing with The Dirtbags last fall?
Ryder- Favorite memory had to be in Jupiter, Florida when we beat YAK Baseball out of California!
Utah- My favorite memory was going to Ft. Myers last fall, and being around all my teammates. It was a great experience for me and bonding with the best players in North Carolina.
If you did not play baseball, what sport would you play?
Brother Battle: Please answer the following questions, who would win in a competition of:
Pick up game of Basketball:
Ryder- Ryder Utah-Utah
18 Holes of Golf:
Ryder– Utah Utah-Utah
Ryder-Ryder Utah- Utah
Ryder-Ryder Utah- Ryder
Ryder- Ryder Utah- Ryder
Ryder- Ryder Utah- Utah
Ryder- Utah Utah-Utah
Well, Fellas it looks like we have some differences here! Might be an interesting couple of days in the Jones household after this article comes out!
What's your favorite food:
Ryder- Chicken Wings
Utah- Boneless Honey BBQ Wings
What's your favorite book:
Ryder- Thousand Splendid Suns
Utah- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Who's your favorite NBA player:
Ryder- Kevin Durant
Utah- Stephen Curry
Who's your favorite college basketball team:
Ryder- Oklahoma State
Utah- Oklahoma State
Who's your favorite actor?
Ryder- Will Ferrell
Utah- Will Ferrell
What's one fact most people don't know about the other?
Ryder- Utah has a video on YouTube called "Grenade by Utah" in which he sings his heart out! Check it out!!
Utah- Ryder was a natural right handed hitter but my dad switched him to be a lefty when he was really young. He does everything else right handed.
Utah, what's one thing you are going to miss about Ryder when he leaves for Stanford next year?
I’m going to miss having him around to do things with. When he leaves it’s just going be me. I won’t have him to go hit with or to go throw with. I’ll miss having him around just to talk to and laugh with.
Ryder, what's one thing you will miss about living under the same roof as Utah?
The one thing I’ll miss about my brother is the times where we make each other laugh. We always have a good time, and I’ll miss that more than he knows.
Impact Baseball would like to thank Ryder and Utah for their entertaining "Under The Gun" interview. We would like to wish you both along with the Watauga High School Baseball team the best of luck this spring...