Expect Julio To Have Mind On Bowl

A football team can win championships upon championships, dominate its rivals, have all sorts of honors bestowed on players and coaches. But blow one bowl game...

In the long period between the final game of the regular season and the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on January 1, there are not a ton of subjects to cover regarding Alabama football. But there are a few.

One that isn't going to get an answer from anyone concerns which Crimson Tide juniors might elect to pass up their final season of Bama football for a chance to play in the NFL.

Another question gets the same answer from everyone: will Alabama players be motivated in the Capital One Bowl considering the Tide fell short of its pre-season goal of playing for the national championship and also remembering Bama's woeful performance the last time it was disappointed going to a bowl game. At the end of the 2008 season, Alabama with an 11-1 record was relegated to the Sugar Bowl and a game against Utah.

That figured to be a rout. And it was. Utah 31, Alabama 17. Okay, so that's not the way it was figured, but that figures into pre-Orlando speculation.

Alabama will be playing Michigan State, an 11-1 team from the Big Ten. The Spartans not only have a better record than Alabama (which is 9-3), but Michigan State is ranked ninth in the nation, Bama 15th.

To a man, Alabama players say that the bowl game is all about business, that the only thing a player remembers from a bowl trip is whether the game was won or lost. The fun is in the winning.

Alabama has one player whose work ethic is legendary among his teammate. Julio Jones, an All-America wide receiver, is a coach's dream, a great player who gives his all on every play, game and practice. Jones doesn't have to proclaim himself a great worker because those around him say it for him.

But ask, and Jones concurs.

"I just come to work every day," the junior from Foley said. " Some people have days when they don't want to work. But I come to work every day. I don't show that I don't want to work. I try to come out here and work every day no matter what the circumstances are."

And when the team gets to Orlando, Jones said, "It's all about business. Fun is winning. You go down there and have fun the first couple of days, but when it's all said and done, you're not going to remember any of that fun if you end up with a loss."

In anticipation of the business trip, Jones was one of the leadership group that met with Coach Nick Saban to discuss things such as curfew.

Players going to bowl games pick up swag to the tune of about $500. Alabama and Michigan State players will get a shopping spree at the electronics store, Best Buy. Is Julio excited about that?

"Oh yes, I am. I am looking forward to it."

The first thing he'll grab?

"I don't know. Probably some headphones and something to listen to; probably some CDs."

The grabbing should be a little easier since Julio pronounced his hand, which was broken during the season, as being "100 per cent. No pain at all."

Before getting back to practice last week, Jones spent some time with his family. And a guest of the family was Saban. The Tide coach revealed that he had met with the families of the Bama juniors who might have an opportunity to go into the NFL draft after this season.

"It went well," Julio said. "Coach Saban came in there and talked to me and told me what's there on the table and everything else. But that's as far as it went."

Jones was asked if he had studied the NFL labor-management dispute that could result in the NFL draft, pre-season camps, and/or the season being affected.

"No sir," he said. "I'm not even looking toward that. I'm just trying to help my team with the Capital One Bowl. That (the NFL draft) not on my priority list right now. I'm just trying to finish up strong."

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