News: It's already been a long run for rookie Jones

Discussion in 'News Zone' started by jdnalls, May 1, 2004.

  1. jdnalls

    jdnalls New Member

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    It's already been a long run for rookie Jones
    11:45 PM CDT on Friday, April 30, 2004

    By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News

    IRVING – A week ago, Julius Jones stood on a balcony at a Miami hotel, staring at an endless ocean with a cellphone stuck to his ear.

    On the other end was coach Bill Parcells telling Jones the Cowboys took him with their second-round pick. Inside the room, Jones' family – his mother, father, five sisters and brother – were watching him.

    "I looked out," said his older brother, Thomas, a running back for the Chicago Bears, "and he was just standing there smiling."

    What happened last week was a distant dream only a year ago.

    There was no guarantee Jones would be with the Cowboys this weekend, taking part in the rookie minicamp. There was no guarantee he'd be in the NFL. There was no guarantee he'd even be allowed back to Notre Dame after he was suspended for academic reasons.

    A year ago, Thomas and Julius were in Phoenix, trying to straighten out careers that had gone awry. Thomas, Arizona's first-round pick in 2000, was looking for a new start after failing to live up to expectations. Julius was looking to get his grades up and his body ready for football.

    It wasn't that Julius stopped going to class; he just did not do well enough for Notre Dame's liking even though he was still eligible by the NCAA's standards.

    "I was just letting an opportunity slip," Julius said. "I had to be a grownup about things and take care of things I needed to."

    Living at Thomas' house, the brothers worked out at an almost-empty Gold's Gym every morning at 4 a.m. Weights would echo as they were slammed to the floor. The cardio machines would drone on and on. Lifting. Running. Sweating. Hoping. Working.

    Work is all they knew. They grew up in Big Stone Gap, Va., a small coal-mining town in the southwest corner of the state. It's so small and cell phone reception is so poor that the Joneses ended up in Miami for their draft party.

    Julius took classes at Arizona State, and Notre Dame eventually welcomed him back. Then he had to regain acceptance on the field. Despite starting only seven games last season, he ran for 1,268 yards. In Notre Dame's fabled history, no one has run for more yards in a game than the 262 Jones had against Pittsburgh last season.

    After the Cowboys selected Jones with the 43rd pick, Parcells mentioned Jones' ability to see the hole in the line, his elusiveness and his speed ... and something else.

    "He's a high character player," he said. "That's important to me."

    It's important to Jones' parents, too. His mother, Betty, worked in the Westmoreland Coal Company mine for 20 years. His father, Thomas, worked there, too. He held other jobs before becoming a corrections officer at the local prison. They had seven kids. Thomas, Julius and his twin sister, Knetris, shared a bed. The children had to mow the lawn, do the dishes and clean the house. They excelled in school, which is why Julius' suspension was surprising.

    "We had what we needed, but sometimes we didn't have what we wanted," the father said. "They saw what we did to sacrifice in our lives."

    Jones easily could have never returned to Notre Dame. He could have said the new coaches did not like him or want him and gone to another school. After all, coaches had flocked to Powell Valley High School's 4,500-seat stadium to see first Thomas and then Julius play under the Friday night lights.

    Julius ran for 2,546 yards and

    won three state championships. In one game he scored five touchdowns even though he touched the ball only six times. In his final two games as a senior, he ran for more than 600 yards even though he carried the ball just 40 times.

    "He had that speed that set him apart from everybody else," his coach, Josh Robbins, said.

    But Julius would not run from Notre Dame. He went to Phoenix to live with his brother. He became an unknown student in Tempe. He went to the gym early in the morning and again in the afternoon.

    "He started there [at Notre Dame] and didn't want it to seem like he quit," his brother said.

    Quit? No, Julius couldn't quit and give up the dream he and Thomas had when their only worries were the bees they teased in the nearby woods. They wanted to be like the Morris brothers – Joe, who starred for Parcells with the New York Giants, and Jamie.

    At some point, Julius remembered his father's words.

    "Success is not built on success," the father said. "Success is built on failure. Success is built on frustration. Sometimes success is built on catastrophe. Once you go through all that, you're going to be stronger."

    Julius is stronger on and off the field. He is taking his first professional steps this weekend, and Cowboys fans hope he carries on the tradition set by Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith. He is one class shy of a sociology degree, which he plans to earn next spring.

    "I sometimes can't believe I'm here," he said. "But I am, and I'm going to make the best out of it."

    E-mail tarcher@**************
  2. Hostile

    Hostile The Duke

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    Good article. Sounds like he has good character.
  3. Madzo

    Madzo The Gunshow

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    I didn't know much about JJ, but I'm liking him more and more, wish him the best with us.
  4. da_boyz_mk

    da_boyz_mk How 'Bout Dem Cowboys

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    i'm really liking jj the more i hear and read about him. i was skeptical about him and first but i'm changing my mind about him more and more.
  5. Sarge

    Sarge Red, White and brew... Staff Member

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    I agree and how about 600 yards on 40 carries? Yikes!
  6. cowboys4life

    cowboys4life Member

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    Im loving this pick more and more...Wish him nothing but the best...
  7. jamez25

    jamez25 Active Member

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    thanks for the link
  8. jdnalls

    jdnalls New Member

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    It's easy... you average 15 ypc. ;)
  9. RatisBeast

    RatisBeast Chevy Guy

    1,753 Messages
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    Thanks JD, cool article. This guy seems like he's on a mission. I hope he proves all the doubters wrong.
  10. LaTunaNostra

    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    Imagine. A Saturday spring afternoon. Phone rings and it's Bill Parcells telling you you're a Dallas Cowboy.

    This kid is living the dream, all right.

    Bless his heart.

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