Sept. 30, 2010
By Jon Cooper
The goal of keeping up with the Joneses, regardless of the field, is almost always a futile one.
Trying to keep up with Georgia Tech’s redshirt junior A-Back Roddy Jones and his family, especially on the football field, is especially so.
It’s an on-going task, which dates back almost three decades and probably won’t end in the foreseeable future. It’s challenged defenses as far north as Hanover, New Hampshire (home of Dartmouth College), as far west as Laramie, Wyoming (University of Wyoming) and may soon be bicoastal, stretching to San Diego, before the 2010 season ends.
What began at Brown University in the early ’80s with Roderick (“Rod”) Jones, who started 15 games for the Bears, has continued with Roddy and Roddy’s younger brothers Darius, a sophomore at the Air Force Academy, Theo, the latest Jones to run at Chamblee High School, and Taylor, who, at nine, represents the next generation.
Talk about a full-house backfield!
“We’ve kind of got a football family going,” said Roddy, in something of an understatement. “We are all running backs.”
“There’s something about running the ball that excites all of us,” added Rod, who began carrying the torch — or ball in this case — during the 1981 and ’82 seasons. “I think Theo could probably be a linebacker in the future, but he loves running the ball too.”
Amazingly, for a family that loves running the ball, getting into end zone has never been the be-all-end-all goal.
“Obviously, Roddy’s primary job, as an A-Back, is blocking,” said Rod, who scored 10 career touchdowns at Brown. “I get excited seeing his excitement when someone else scores. He’s always one of the first in the end zone jumping on someone. I think it’s hilarious. I know after the game, regardless of the stats, I can say, ‘I know he did a good job because he blocked. He made something happen.'”
Roddy made something happen last Saturday, as his four-yard touchdown run in the third quarter against North Carolina State was the 10th of his career, tying his dad, as the family’s leading collegiate touchdown-maker.
Of course, Roddy’s surpassing his dad on the field wouldn’t catch Rod by surprise. He expects Darius and Theo — the jury is obviously out on Taylor — to do so as well.
“I think they’re all probably better than me, and I say that because they had me to help coach them,” he said with a laugh.
But Roddy is the closest to him.
“His style is somewhat like my playing style, not super-flashy, but sort of hard-nosed, do whatever the team wants you to do,” he said. “He went from high school, when he was touching the ball 35 to 40 times a game to maybe now, the most he’ll have is 13. But he’s still as enthusiastic about the school. He loves playing hard and loves his teammates.
“From a size perspective, we were similar at this stage of our careers,” he added. “We’re both students of the game. Roddy is one who can break down film and develop an understanding of the game.”
He’s as honest about his other sons.
“Darius is shiftier. Extremely shifty, extremely quick. From a skill perspective, he is probably just as skilled, if not more skilled, than his brother. Roddy may not want to hear that,” he said with a laugh. “Theo is more of a power runner. Theo is about 5-8 and 5-9, between 200 and 205. So he’s one that’s going to run over you. Decent speed for that size. He’s like a Preston Lyons type or Anthony Allen type, just big, strong. I say Preston because Roddy played against Preston in high school, so I got a chance to see him far too much.”
All the Jones Boys share that toughness, which was built not only by playing with and against each other, but also from training together at Razor Sharp Athletic Training, a Tucker-based facility, which Rod runs for kids age 9 and up. Besides Roddy, Razor Sharp also has produced current Yellow Jackets teammates Kyle Jackson and Omoregie Uzzi (for more information, visit http://www.eteamz.com/razorsharp).
Of course, Rod, an attorney for the Atlanta-based firm of Marcus & Jones, and Angel, an Emory graduate — she and Rod met while he was attending Emory Law — who works with the DeKalb County Roads and Drainage, have their own fitness program just trying to keep up with and watch all their sons. It’s a task made tougher with Darius playing in Colorado Springs, which is on Mountain Time.
This weekend, for example, Rod is flying out to Colorado Springs with Theo to watch Air Force play Navy, while Angel travels to Winston Salem for Georgia Tech’s game at Wake Forest.
“We bounce around. This will be our third weekend where my wife and I are in different locations,” said Rod, “You should see our Jones family football calendar.”
Having their sons compete at a school with high athletic standard is as important as seeing them at a school with high academic standards.
“She loved the thought of [Roddy] going to Georgia Tech from the beginning because of it meeting our criteria,” said Rod. “Great academic school, close — it didn’t necessarily have to be that close, but, obviously, close — with some darn good football. The bar was kind of high.”
Roddy and Darius have raised the bar for Theo and Taylor. In a few months, Roddy will raise it even higher.
“He graduates in December,” said Rod. “But the cool thing is his goal was to finish in four years or less and he will be doing that. It will be great if he gets started toward some graduate program, but who knows?
“We’re proud of him,” he added. “We’re proud of all the boys. They’re proud of each other. The support that they have for each other is kind of neat.”
Roddy, in turn, respects Darius for going out West.
“I think he kind of wanted to do his own thing,” he said. “Maybe he would have had an opportunity to walk on here. He didn’t get an offer from here, but I think he wanted to do his own thing and kind of forge his own path. He’s done that. I’m proud of him and I’m excited for him.”
Rod recalled how deep the support runs between brothers. Recently, Darius replaced his old cell phone, which dad took as a spare for travel. Last Saturday morning, he received a text on the phone.
“It kind of warmed my heart because Roddy sent him a text before his game. He signed it, ‘Big bro’ with a smiley face,” he said. “Darius never GOT it, but that was pretty cool.”