Jones continues his journey at Ole Miss
by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor
More than 1,300 college football players have entered the portal this year. The portal, what some are calling the NFL version of free agency, allows student-athletes to transfer to another school without having to sit out a year.
It allows those student-athletes to maybe go to a school to get playing time that they weren’t getting at their current school. It also allows players from lower school’s, who had a great career, to realize their dreams of playing Division I football - something they may have not had the opportunity earlier in their careers.
Jackson Jones has always wanted to play football at the highest level. The former Grand Island High School standout, Jones was blessed to receive an offer to play at the FCS level, which is one level lower than Division I.
After a year of playing for Stoney Brook, Jones entered the portal to see what his options were. He had plenty of college coaches looking to gain his services, but one school stood out the most.
When Lane Kiffin and the University at Mississippi come calling, you listen. So after a year playing near New York City, Jones made the decision to head to Mississippi for a chance to play for the Ole Miss Rebels.
“My dream my entire life was to go and compete at the Division I level. Out of high school I was blessed to have an opportunity to play Division I at the FCS level,” stated Jones. “After spending one season there, I knew I could play at a higher level, and I took that risk! Not only was I able to go to a higher level, but God gave me the opportunity to play at the highest level.”
Ole Miss, coming off a victory over Penn State in the Peach Bowl, has everything cooking right now. With the transfer portal that Kiffin has been putting together, Ole Miss could easily be a preseason top 5 team next year.
What drew Jones to Ole Miss the most was the coaching staff. The staff has been unbelievable since he has been on campus. Also, the new facilities are top notch at Ole Miss. The football program has come along way since Kiffin got there.
It all added up to a no brainer for Jones. Plus he gets to play for a coach in Kiifin, who is one of the sharpest mines in the game.
“Coach Kiffin has to be the most intelligent coach I’ve seen in action. He is the kind of coach that the whole room is 100% attentive to when he walks in,” stated Jones. “I have full trust in him and his methods to take this team far for the years to come. I am thankful to be a part of this team with him in charge.”
If this was a made for T.V. movie, Jones would be running out on the field every Saturday and suiting up for the Rebels.
But, this isn’t Rudy.
While Jones wants to be out their with his teammates every weekend, he knows this isn’t an easy task at hand. If it was everyone would be doing it. Everyone would be playing at the highest level possible in all sports.
“Playing at this high of a level is what I signed up for. I knew going in that it would not be an easy road. But what I do know, is that the work will pay off in the end. It was my first season with the team, learning the techniques, playbook, etc etc,” explained Jones. “Through this year I’ve been able to work to help others get better and that alone has helped improve my craft. I know that my time will come and God has me here for a reason. I’m going to put my head down and keep grinding. I am just very thankful for this job.”
One thing that Jones has working for him is he is fast. Like, Olympic fast. There has been a video circulating around of him doing the 40 yard dash while at Ole Miss, showing his teammates that his speed is real.
Speed burns, and Jones has a lot of it. He’s hoping that speed can help him get on the field during spring ball, and hopefully on Saturday’s next season in the SEC.
“Speed has always been my top attribute. Running a 4.3 40 yard dash is something I want to use to help on the field. Speed is everything in the game, on offense/defense/special teams. Wherever I am on the field, I want to be the fastest to the ball and make things happen,” stated Jones. “Doing this definitely was one of the coolest moments in my life. Being able to prove something this big was really cool for me as a new freshman on the team trying to earn my spot and work my way up. I might not always be the biggest or strongest, but speed is what I do have. The tattoo on my leg reads: “God made me fast. So I run for Him.”
As he continues on his journey of playing football in the SEC, Jones has his dad to look too when it comes to motivation. His dad did it in thew college. He was a pretty good soccer player at the next level.
So, when it comes to motivation, look no further than the person who has done it before him.
“My dad was a very great college soccer player. His motivation and the way he has driven me is easily one of biggest reasons I have made it to where I am today,” stated Jones. “He has always pushed me in any sport I have played, to play my heart out. But the most important thing was that he always believed in me and wanted whatever I wanted for my future and pushed me to those goals.”