MSU Football v. Southeast Missouri State University (copy)

Montana State running back Logan Jones scores a touchdown on Sept. 7 at Bobcat Stadium.

Logan Jones just wanted a T-shirt.

Montana State players who participate in every fall camp practice earn one from the coaching staff. And Jones, the fifth-year senior running back, had never previously accomplished the feat.

This August, he felt pretty good physically. He only played in four games last year due to injury and redshirted. So this time around, in the final fall camp of his career, he wanted to be out there with his teammates, his brothers, the people who motivate him.

Jones put on his pads and his helmet, ready for a practice. But the Bobcats’ coaches wouldn’t have it. Running backs coach DeNarius McGhee ripped Jones’ pads and helmet off, wrestled them away and confiscated his gear. Head coach Jeff Choate wanted Jones to take precautionary days off.

“I was bummed. I was starting to get pissed off,” Jones said, “because I knew I was OK. I felt good. But I guess I'm an old man. Got to be careful a little bit.”

When Jones was younger, he couldn’t understand veteran players dealing with aches and pains on a regular basis. Now he’s the veteran. If not for the NCAA changing its redshirt rule, he wouldn’t even be eligible this season. Despite Jones’ hardheaded approach, if taking a few practices off means he can keep playing alongside his teammates, it’s a sacrifice he’s come to accept. Jones’ bonus season continues when the Bobcats (1-1) visit Western Illinois (0-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday.

At this point in his career, Jones’ top motivation is playing for his teammates. He initially thought last season would be his last. But now he can finish his time at MSU with his 2015 Badlands Bowl teammates: left tackle Mitch Brott, safety Brayden Konkol and linebacker Josh Hill, who he’s played with since middle school in Kalispell.

“I don't really have any other motivation,” Jones said. “I'm not doing this for anything else but those guys. They're there and work their ass off in the weight room for how many years now. I remember watching these guys all summer. Everybody was busting their butt, and I don't think there's a better motivation anyway.”

Dating to last season, Jones has scored touchdowns in four of the last five games he’s played. The most memorable play of his career came when he scored the game-winning touchdown against Montana last season.

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Montana State running back Logan Jones grabs Montana kicker Adam Wilson’s face mask as he is taken down on Nov. 17, 2018, at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Though Jones was held out from the playoffs, McGhee called it a “great move” by Choate. Jones considered it bittersweet. Of course he would have loved playing in the postseason he worked four years to reach, but he understood his coaches’ thinking and was willing to oblige.

And he’s already made the most of his extra season thus far.

With five minutes left in the third quarter against Southeast Missouri last week, Jones went in motion before the snap and caught a fly sweep shovel pass from Travis Jonsen. A couple key blocks on the edge sprung Jones into the open field. As he turned the corner along the sideline, he heard the Bobcat Stadium crowd erupt and thought, “Oh boy, we better start running.”

Fifty-five yards later, Jones celebrated in the end zone. Choate didn’t expect him to run as fast as he did. But Choate also knows what Jones can bring to the offense.

“I think it would be an insult to him to say he's just a change-of-pace guy,” Choate said. “I think he's a feature guy. He's a playmaker that needs touches in our offense.”

MSU Football v. Southeast Missouri State University (copy)

Montana State running back Logan Jones breaks away from Southeast Missouri defenders on Sept. 7 at Bobcat Stadium.

That offense Jones is a part of has tons of moving parts, tons of weapons who can change a game each time they touch the ball. And he fits right in, with his ability to stretch the field horizontally on fly sweeps and vertically when he bursts past opposing defenses.

Because of the weapons at MSU’s disposal, coaches are working through juggling who should play where, when and how often. But that also means players like Jones will get their share of chances.

Four different players scored touchdowns last week against the Redhawks, including DeMareus Hosey and Karl Tucker II each recording their first career scores.

“It's just cool when you can spread the wealth, spread the happiness between everybody,” Jones said. “It was a really cool experience and not one I think I've experienced here in a little while like that.”

MSU Football v. Southeast Missouri State University (copy)

Montana State running back Logan Jones breaks away for a touchdown on Sept. 7 at Bobcat Stadium.

Earlier in his career, Jones looked up to fellow running backs Chad Newell and Gunnar Brekke. Former running backs coach Michael Pitre told Jones to watch how they acted and mimic their approach.

As a senior, Jones wants to be the one now setting positive examples. He thought the same thing last year, but this really will be his final season this time.

“(Jones) shows the young guys exactly how to study,” McGhee said, “exactly how to prepare for game day, exactly how to prepare for scrimmages, all those things.”

Looking back, Jones calls having one more season a blessing. Throughout fall camp, he was more engaged mentally than ever before, even if he wasn’t allowed to practice every day.

That’s because he knows his college career is nearing an end. So he’s trying to savor every moment.

“I'm just hoping for a bunch of fun,” Jones said before the season. “That's why I play the game. That's why it's called a game.”

Paul Schwedelson can be reached at or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.