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He earned all-conference honors for his offensive prowess, but he also played safety, where he was rated a three-star prospect by
Still, Jones felt his future was on the offensive side of the ball, and he expected that he would continue to play running back in college. His dad was a hurdler for Purdue and Jones himself earned an Illinois state title in the hurdles for Plano High.
He was his school’s team MVP in both sports, football and track. But he said, ‘Joe, when you get to college, you’re going to put a bunch of weight on, and then be a linebacker.’ I was like no way.“After six weeks of summer school at Northwestern and working out, I went from 200 pounds to 220.”Jones was now a linebacker. After redshirting his freshman season, he played sparingly the next two years before appearing in every game in his third campaign, albeit as a special teams ace and backup linebacker.
And this all came despite playing much of the season with a broken right hand.
Those in Jones’ position, however, don’t get one of the limited invites to the NFL Scouting Combine, so when Northwestern’s Pro Day came around, he knew he had to make it count.“I wasn’t the big-name guy in college; my main role was special teams,” said Jones.
And oh, by the way, he got married to his high school sweetheart, Amber, midway through college, and last season, as a fifth-year senior, he welcomed his baby daughter into the world, Scarlette.“It wasn’t easy, not at all,” said Jones. And then having a wife and having a child at the end, it was a lot. For us, at Northwestern, the academic system and the tutor system we have, there was no way that we shouldn’t graduate.
It was impossible for us to fail, to be honest with you.”That intelligence and determination, though, is now helping Jones in his battle to make the Cowboys roster this season.
And my roommates, Kennan Gilchrist and Darnell Leslie, have been helping me as well.