Barrett Jones Has To Deliver An ‘A'
Barrett Jones, Alabama's starting right guard, is truly a straight ‘A' student at The University. Greg McElroy has a single ‘B' spoiling an otherwise perfect transcript.
Both Jones and McElroy have been two-year starters for the Crimson Tide, a period when Bama has gone 19-0, won a national championship, and is currently number one in the nation.
This week Alabama puts its record and ranking on the line with a Southeastern Conference game at South Carolina. Bama, 5-0, meets the Gamecocks, 3-1 and ranked 19th, at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central time) in a game that will be televised by CBS.
Jones was asked what makes McElroy a good candidate for a Rhodes Scholarship, which is a prestigious post-graduate scholarship for study at Oxford in England. Athletics and academics are key elements in the selection process.
"I think his life experience," Jones said. ""I think it's extremely challenging to balance school and football. It's sort of like having two different jobs. Obviously, not real jobs; they're fun jobs. It's something that's difficult and you have to be skilled in time management, something all student-athletes have to learn. I think he definitely deserves it because of the way he has been able to balance football and academics."
Is that something Jones might want to pursue?
"We'll see. If the opportunity presents itself, I would not be against it."
This week Jones and McElroy and their teammates are concentrating on South Carolina. Although Bama won last year's game and even though tailback Mark Ingram had 246 yards rushing against the Gamecocks, it was a tough outing for Bama. Earlier this week McElroy said the game had been something of a turning point for him.
Remembering back a year, Jones said, "I think we had a pretty good first few games, then got a little complacent, didn't realize what it was going to take to grind out a full SEC season. After the South Carolina game, we really realized in the SEC it didn't matter who you played, you had to bring your ‘A' game each week or you can get beat. And if you didn't take care of the football especially, which we didn't last year, and which we have emphasized this week, taking care of the football. I definitely think that was a wake-up call for us last year that we really needed to be what we know what we can be every week."
While Jones is an outstanding student and player, he is also proving to be a good teacher. Part of the workload he assumed this year is helping two rookies in the offensive line. Both are doing well. One, in fact -- Chance Warmack --, was last week's SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.
Jones said, "Chance has done really a great job all year and I'm extremely proud of him because he plays my position (Jones is right guard, Warmack left guard) and we've talked a lot and I've kind of tried to take him under my wing, kind of show him what it's like to play since he is a guard. He's done a great job and I'm extremely proud of him. He's going to be a heck of a player, a whole lot better than me one day, if he's not already. He's got all the talent in the world, so we knew that Chance is capable of doing this.
"He weighs 320 pounds and he has a six pack. That's just not right. His body fat is something really low and freakish. For as big as he is, he can move extremely well in space. That's what makes him so versatile, that he can really explode off the ball, but also athletic and can move around."
Jones also assists the redshirt freshman working alongside him at right tackle, D.J. Fluker.
"D.J. has gotten a ton better," Jones said. "He continues to work, but he's had a few really good games. He's starting to get more comfortable, starting to get settled in. At first, like everyone else, there was a bit of panic when things would happen really fast, but now he's starting to settle in and understand what's happening"
Jones said that practices this week have been good, but that it has been a tough preparation week. "We know South Carolina is a great defense," he said. "They are extremely quick and give you a lot of looks."
He said he remembered from last year that the Gamecocks defense had "a lot of guys who are extremely talented and quick. A lot of those guys are back, so we've got to bring our ‘A' game."
There aren't many better to count on for an ‘A' than Barrett Jones.
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