25 April 2011
|Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones has his body composition measured at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) in New York City. Jones is one of 14 NFL prospects featured in the new web series "Everything To Prove."
Photo Credit: Gatorade/Steve Boyle
We were pleasantly surprised late last week when we were contacted by a representative from Gatorade about talking with Julio Jones. Julio is participating in a series of videos presented by the NFL films and Gatorade entitled "Everything to Prove". The films are super well done (no surprise with NFL Films involved), and Gatorade is interested in getting the word out. So, they gave us a little time with Julio. That's a good old fashioned win/win as far as I'm concerned.
Realizing our good fortune, and not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I jumped on it with both feet.
Jones was generous with his time, and we really appreciate that. We talked about topics from his position in the NFL Draft to his choices coming out of high school to his ability to play through pain. I'd hoped to post some audio here, but my technical skills failed me, so here's a summary of our chat with lots of quotes from Jones.
At first, I was a little concerned I'd be too much like Chris Farley in those awesome old school SNL sketches where I'd simply say things like "remember when you grabbed that ball one handed against Tennessee? That was awesome." Instead, I tried to focus my questions on those that you guys would like to know about.
We kicked off by talking about his status in the draft. Jones was, as in almost all things, confident yet deferential. He noted accurately that he's a guy "with no character issues. A player who can convert big on third down. A guy who's ready to come in and contribute now."
So, I saw an opening to see if we could get Jones to say something controversial, and I asked "so, who will get taken first - you or AJ Green?"
Jones handled that one like so many SEC corners last season, dodging "I have no clue. AJ's a great football player too."
I pressed harder - "So, if you're an NFL GM, who do you take first?"
Again, he dodged the question admirably: "it's tough to say - you really can't go wrong with either." True enough I suppose, but I was hoping to make a headline here! Not to be. "AJ and I both signed with Gatorade and we've trained together in Phoenix. We went out together a bit."
I moved on to his health - Jones had foot surgery back on March 5. When asked about the foot, Jones said it felt "Great". He's off the walking cast, but not yet doing full drills yet. He's still working on running in the pool right now. Even though he knew about the injury before the combine, he elected to participate. he didn't want to put "all his eggs in one basket" - referring to a late pro-day workout at Alabama he would have done as opposed to the combine. And, he wanted to "put it up on the big stage" - something he succeeded in doing. His workout in Indianapolis was considered the best among wide receivers even before anyone knew of the injury.
Playing through pain is not a new experience for Jones. He was back on the field just two days after his hand surgery this fall. "I hate sitting on the sidelines - I just have to go. I'm just one of those guys that you'll have to take my helmet to keep me off the field. I certainly didn't want to let my teammates down."
Since his surgery, Jones has been on the road. He's met "so many general managers and head coaches. It's been really cool. Coach Saban coached in the NFL, and he runs his program so his guys can be prepared."
We talked about his recruitment. Jones initially committed to coach Mike Shula. "When Coach Shula was fired, I didn't know where I was going to go. Coach Tuberville was recruiting me really hard to Auburn. I took a lot of visits, and I was really looking for a quarterback. Oklahoma had Sam Bradford, but I knew he wasn't going to be there long. At the end of it all, Alabama just seemed like home."
Jones was certainly a leader in the receiving corps for the Tide last year, but he has great confidence in a trio of receivers to step up and lead. "Darius Hanks, Marquis Maze and Brandon Gibson all know what it takes to get it done. We're just so talented and now we've got depth at every position."
When asked to handicap the quarterback battle, he took a safe line: "both Phillip (Sims) and AJ (McCarron) are great players. There's not a lot of difference. AJ is a bit taller, but they can both throw it down the field and have great arm strength." According to Jones, the most important thing to get to be a starter for the tide is "be accountable and do your job." He's confident both of the signal callers can make that happen.
Jones says he plans on finishing his degree. "I'm definitely going to get my degree. I don't know what's going to happen with the lockout, but I may have to get it online, or may come back to Alabama."
We wrapped up the discussion with the only time Jones ever came close to bragging. I asked him about his status as Foley High School's second most famous alumni behind Kenny Stabler. "No, I'm first! I'm definitely past Kenny Stabler," he interrupted with a laugh.
Stabler is a Super Bowl MVP, but if Jones hasn't caught him yet, I wouldn't doubt he will soon enough.
Check out NFL Videos: Everything to Prove series at www.NFL.com/EverythingToProve.
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