Marcus Jones sprints into UH lore and ties an NCAA record

Marcus Jones scores on a 100-yard kickoff return / Photo by Mario Puente

After his dramatic 100-yard kickoff return to take down #19 SMU, the country finally realized what UH fans had known for years: Marcus Jones is special. With an INT and the kick return vs. the Mustangs, coming a week after a 98-yard return for a score, Marcus is making a strong case as the most electrifying player in the country.

In the spring of 2019, Jones came to Houston with some fanfare after two solid years at Troy.

He spent that as a redshirt year on the scout team, working to improve his game and help his teammates prepare for opponents. contributor and former UH punter Dane Roy says that he and Marcus would hone their skills together that season in practice. Dane credits Marcus for making him better a better punter and said he saw Marcus’ ability and field vision improve as they sparred.

Fast forward two years and Marcus has now tied the NCAA record for most kick returns history (9) with Dante Pettis of Washington and Boise State’s Avery Williams. Pettis had 9 punt return TDs in his career while Williams had six punt returns and 3 kick returns. Marcus Jones is mostly known by UH fans for his punt return skills but, going back to his time at Troy, he has six kickoff returns for touchdowns in his career.

Jones leads all players nationally with four combined kick returns for touchdowns. No other player has more than two and no other player has both a punt- and kick-return touchdown this year.

He also tied Don Bean for the most return touchdowns in a UH career with five. During the SMU game, Marcus moved up to #2 all-time in punt return yardage at UH with 624, trailing Bean by 282 yards.

Jones is #1 in FBS in total punt return yards this season and is #3 nationally in yards per punt return and combined kick return yards. Marcus only has six kickoff returns and would need 10 to qualify for the national rankings. If he qualified, his 47.7-yard average would be #1 in the country and ahead of the current leader by more than 12 yards per return.

Jones warming up in pregame / Photo by Mario Puente

Marcus Jones’ kickoff returns for touchdowns in back-to-back weeks is a school record for a single player. Tyron Carrier and Devin Mays each returned a kick in back-to-back weeks in 2009 (Carrier – 98 yards at Tulsa, Mays – 100 yards at UCF). Jones is tied for second-most kick return TDs in a season (trailing Carrier and Marquez Stevenson 2019) and is tied for third in career kick returns (Brandon Wilson and Stevenson, trailing Carrier).

How crazy has UH’s return game been in the last 10-15 years?

In the entire time the Cougars were in the SWC, UH returned only one kickoff for a touchdown (vs. SHSU in 1987). Since joining the American in 2013, the Coogs have returned nine kickoffs for TDs. UH also returned eight kicks in Kevin Sumlin’s four years (2008-2011).

UH returned seven punts for a score in the 20 years the school was in the SWC (3 of those were blocked punts returned less than two yards). UH has returned seven punts for TD in the last 7 years alone (one was a block).

In his impressive career, Marcus Jones has now scored on punt returns (longest: 73 yards), an INT (100 yards), kick-off returns (longest: 100 yards), and a receiving touchdown (30 yards). Only one thing left to do: get this man some carries at the goal line!

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