04-06-2005, 07:50 AM
I was looking around and found this from last year, ... pre-draft.
04-06-2005, 08:50 AM
Assist for the lazy...:)
By Mike Beacom, editor
This is one of several features offered as part of DJ Boyer’s 2004 NFL Draft Guide. The “One to watch” series highlights five undervalued draft prospects. The draft feature section also includes a story comparing receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Roy Williams, an all-time NFL Draft all-bust team, draft trivia, and much more.
Julius Jones was on cruise-control heading into the 2002 regular season. He had led Notre Dame in rushing as a sophomore and junior, but his play was inconsistent — flashes of brilliances mixed in with mediocrity.
The new head coach that fall, Tyrone Willingham, didn’t hold back from letting the media know he wasn’t all that impressed with his top returning offensive player. When asked if he believed the junior was a leader, Willingham simply responded, “No.”
But Willingham never saw Jones carry the ball once that fall. An academic violation prohibited him from taking the field. Jones has never talked in depth about the suspension, but it really doesn’t matter much how poorly he did last semester or why the school disciplined him. What does matter, at least what should matter to NFL scouts, is the path Jones started walking after he left South Bend; a path that led him to re-focus and take some time to think about his future. Jones spent that time at Arizona State, close by older brother Thomas who was playing for the Arizona Cardinals at the time. The two worked out together, talked about football and about life.
“Being away from football forced me to grow up a little bit and figure out what I wanted to do,” said Jones. “Watching my brother, I learned how to take care of the little things.”
It was an invaluable experience for Jones. But while he was lifting weights and running wind sprints, the Notre Dame football team was winning its first eight games of the season, and Ryan Grant was putting up respectable numbers.
“I knew Grant was going to be the starting running back when I returned,” said Jones, “but I couldn’t worry about that.”
Instead, Jones worried about himself. He focused on his workout regimen, earning his way back onto the team, and ultimately, learning a new offense which would eventually take his game to the next level.
Jones’ blinding speed was showcased under former Notre Dame Head Coach Bob Davie, who employed a more old-fashioned approach to running the football. Willingham is a West Coast man. Many thought Jones’ lack of size would prohibit him from carrying the ball up the middle. But according to Notre Dame running backs coach Buzz Preston, everyone underestimated Jones’ strength and his heart.
“He’s a deceptive looking guy,” said Preston. “He’s not a small back. He’s put together really well.”
It didn’t take Jones long to prove that to the rest of the country. In Notre Dame’s season opener against Washington State, Jones gained 72 yards on 11 carries, including a 19-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run that gave the Irish their first lead of the game. They went on to win 29-26 in overtime.
“That was a special moment for me,” said Jones. “It was one of my most memorable games at Notre Dame.”
Five weeks later the Irish visited Pittsburgh, where Jones erased all doubt as to whether he was one of the nation’s finest rushers. He carried 24 times that Saturday for a school-record 262 yards, including touchdown runs of 25 and 49 yards.
“It was really unexpected,” said Jones. “We were coming off some tough losses. We re-shuffled the offensive line and that was the key for us.”
Pittsburgh Head Coach Walt Harris wasn’t blown away by Notre Dame’s gameplan that day, just Jones’ execution.
“They only ran about four plays against us,” said Harris. “(Jones) popped a couple of long runs in short-yardage situations and we just couldn’t stop him.”
After averaging just 11 carries in the first four outings, Jones carried the ball an average of 22 times after the Pittsburgh game, and with the extra work his numbers soared.
“He’s like all good backs,” said Preston, “the more he touches the ball, the better he does on the football field.”
By the time he was through, Jones had accumulated 1,268 yards, tied for second most in a season among Notre Dame running backs over the last 20 years. But past numbers and records aside, Jones feels his best football is still ahead of him.
Jones ran well at the combine and had a terrific pro day on August 17. He also realizes how important working in a West Coast offense was for him this season, as it showcased his ability to run between the tackles.
“In the NFL, you can’t run to the outside so much because everyone’s faster,” said Jones. “A lot of people thought I wasn’t a tough runner, but now they can go back and look at my film to see for themselves.”
04-06-2005, 10:42 AM
shouldnt this go in the "kind of neat read" forum?
04-06-2005, 10:43 AM
shouldnt this go in the "kind of neat read" forum?
Probably, every other thing I post seems to belong elsewhere. :rolleyes:
04-06-2005, 10:49 AM
good read. hope we can find other plays as good as julius this year.
04-06-2005, 10:53 AM
That article was really keen :D
04-06-2005, 11:38 AM
sounds like he's got a lot of personal issues, we better not take a chance on him....
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