Not so long ago, Smiths Station junior linebacker Jordan Jones saw a future without football ahead of him. Luckily for Jones, his perseverance through personal doubt has led to stellar play and a future past the high school level.
Jones contemplated giving up football during his junior high years but instead stuck with football, the sport he always dreamed of playing at the professional level. His efforts have proven worthwhile, as he picked up scholarship offers from UAB and Troy this summer and has established himself as one of the Panthers’ primary playmakers.
“I actually wanted to quit football because I didn’t think it was the right sport for me. Coach (Marcus) Wimberly, he talked me back into it and I stayed with it. I’m thankful for that because of where I’m at today,” Jones said. “To this day — it was the summer when I got my offers, and I still don’t believe I have offers.”
Jones’ emergence on the scene this summer wasn’t hard to understand. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior boasted stellar running numbers in his 4.53 40-yard dash as well as a strong leaping ability with a 34-inch vertical. That talent made Jones an ideal recruit for the two in-state schools, which are likely to be just the first of many to offer Jones.
Jones’ projection as a safety is worthwhile for his hopes of playing at the next level, but they mean very little as far as his role at Smiths Station. Jones makes the most of playing for the Panthers by the way he works and leads, and those efforts have led to tangible results.
Jones has been all over the field at linebacker for the Panthers this fall, and through nine games he has 77 solo tackles, 21 tackles for loss, three quarterback pressures, one sack and one forced fumble. He put together another standout game for Smiths Station on Friday, recording 10 tackles in the Panthers’ loss to region foe Prattville.
Smiths Station head coach Mike Glisson doesn’t hear much from the quiet and reserved Jones; instead, Jones likes to let his play do most of the talking.
“He just works. He’s doesn’t say a whole lot. He’s a very quiet kid. He just works really hard. Anything you’ve got him doing, he gives his best. He’s just steady every day,” Glisson said. “Jordan — as well as all of our linebackers — has been the strength of our defense, no doubt. Jordan is a special player.
“You’re talking about a kid who is strong, is a good football player and a great young man. He brings a lot to our team, no doubt.”
Jones admits he’s not much of a talker, but that changes once he’s on the field. Jones prides himself in being a defensive leader for the Panthers, and from time to time that means speaking up and showing his teammates what needs to be done.
Leadership does not intimidate Jones, and his role in showing others the way has been important in a tough season for the Panthers.
Smiths Station started the season 2-0 but has since lost seven in a row, the latest being the 49-21 loss to the Lions on Friday. Despite the turn of events, Jones maintains he and his teammates are working harder now than they were to start the season in order to right the ship and end the season on a high note.
In quarterback/receiver Corey Minton’s eyes, the efforts of star players like Jones sets the standard for the rest of the team.
“Sometimes actions speak louder than words. If you had somebody look up to somebody and you see the person you look up to not giving up, they’re not going to give up,” Minton said. “It’s very important that he sets that example. Actually, it humbles me and humbles everybody around. It makes me want to set good examples, and I try my best to.”
Jones has areas of his game he wants to improve by the time he reaches his senior year, including adding good weight and improving his hips. Having said that, he’s not throwing in the towel on his junior year, as he wants to help the Panthers’ 26 seniors go out as winners.
Jones’ consistent grind has helped him go from someone who thought playing football was a waste of time to someone who is in line to do it at the collegiate level. As the Panthers’ year comes to a close Friday against Eufaula, Jones is eager to go out on a high note that will set the stage for an even bigger 2020.
“To me, there’s no limits,” Jones said. “I want to get stronger and to get to 220 for the summer next year. The most important things to me is to get my weight up and work on being more physical. During the summer, it’s just working on everything.”