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Zay Jones-Phil McGeoghan reunion begins at Bills' rookie minicamp

It started in the fall of 2016, on the practice field at East Carolina University.

Zay Jones understood what his position coach, Phil McGeoghan, was doing with him by having him work from a variety of spots at receiver and spending extra time to get him familiar with all of the intricacies of his craft.

McGeoghan was helping to prepare Jones to play in the NFL.

"Yeah, I would say Coach McGeoghan really got me pro ready when it came to this last year," Jones said during a conference call with reporters after the Buffalo Bills made him a second-round pick in last month's NFL Draft. "He introduced me to the entire route tree and just different things, and it has really helped develop my game becoming a complete wide receiver.

"So a lot of credit to thank him for the things he has done for me, and I am only going to get better going up north."

Jones' first post-draft trip north is for this week's rookie minicamp. If he wants to say any more thank yous to McGeoghan, he can do so to his face, because McGeoghan is now the Bills' receivers coach.

Seeing a familiar face will be a source of comfort for Jones. He suspects it will help give him an edge over the large field of competition for the No. 2 receiver spot behind Sammy Watkins.

"I know what type of man he is," Jones said. "I know how he works. He comes to work every day ready, with hair on fire … even though he doesn’t have any hair. Just ready to go, ready to compete and get after it, and that it is the type of man I want helping me become a legendary receiver."

Jones established himself as that type of receiver at East Carolina, where he caught an NCAA-record 399 passes in his career. He also set a single-season collegiate mark last year with 158 catches for 1,746 yards and eight touchdowns.

Jones and McGeoghan had spoken briefly during the NFL Scouting Combine in February. The coach told him that if he had the opportunity to guide the receiver again, he would "love it."

The receiver told the coach the feeling was mutual.

Both understood that it might not work out the way they hoped. Jones intended to flourish wherever he found a home at the next level.

But Jones also knew how much better things figured to work out for him if he were reunited with McGeoghan, who had always been much more than a coach to him.

"Just a great mentor, like a father figure," Jones said. "Reminds me a lot of my father -- the things, the ways he teaches, the way that he commands the room I have a lot of respect for him. You know he likes to tell me you can have fun, you can be cool, but at the end of the day you know it is business and I have to get my job done because we have to defend the team.

"So it is a great balance of friendship, love and respect."

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