Phelon Jones Has Collected Jewelry

The depth chart is a touchy subject around Alabama football, and particularly Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban. But it has played a role in Bama picking up a transfer cornerback, where Alabama has holes to fill in the 2010 season.

Phelon Jones, a 5-11, 199-pound cornerback from Mobile, didn't sign with Alabama out of McGill-Toolen High School prior to the 2007 season. Instead he signed with LSU. It turned out to be a good decision from a jewelry standpoint.

LSU won the national championship as Jones was redshirted.

Following the 2008 season, Jones decided his future was not at LSU. He transferred to Alabama. Although he was ineligible to play under NCAA transfer rules last fall, he was a member of the scout team that prepared the Crimson Tide for its 14 games. Alabama won all those games and the national championship.

Among other things, that means another national championship ring for Phelon Jones.

"It was kind of like my freshman year at LSU," Jones said of last season. "I was trying to work to get better for myself and at the same time work to help my team get better."

Even though he didn't play a game for either of those national championship teams, he was a part of them, preparing his teammates in practice each week. And now he believes he is the only active player in the nation who will have national championship rings from two different schools, LSU and Alabama.

Sort of like Alabama Coach Nick Saban, who directed the Bengal Tigers to the national championship in 2003 and Bama to the title last season.

Jones doesn't have his Alabama ring yet. They haven't arrived. He has his LSU ring in a case in his room. He said several Bama players have looked at the LSU ring "to get an idea of what our ring might look like." One day he expects to have two cases for his rings. Maybe more.

Jones did join the LSU playing rotation in 2008, but he didn't like the direction his football career seemed to be taking. He started a couple of games as a dime back and played about half of two others, and altogether saw action in nine games. But as the season progressed, he found himself mired with the third team defense on the LSU depth chart. Jones said, "I wasn't getting any reps, anything I could use to show that I was good. I just couldn't work up."

Jones said, "We got a new defensive staff at LSU and I guess they didn't see me in the new game plan. They had moved me down, so I decided to make a move that would be best for me and my family. It was kind of tough. It took most of the spring for me to decide. I really liked LSU. There are no hard feelings. It was just a better move for me."

He thinks the game experience he got at LSU in 2008 gives him some advantage in preparing for 2010 with Alabama.

Because he had been redshirted in 2007, played in 2008, and sat out a transfer year in 2009, Jones has two more years of eligibility remaining at Alabama.

Many coaches would not have given a player a release to play against a conference opponent. LSU Coach Les Myles not only allowed Jones to stay in the Southeastern Conference, but also cleared him to transfer to Alabama, a key Western Division opponent. By giving Jones clearance, the player was eligible for scholarship aid.

Jones said, "I think what it was is that I had been a good student and a good person, never broke any team rules, so I guess he decided there wasn't any reason to punish me."

Alabama was Jones' obvious next destination. As a high school prospect, he had liked Alabama and didn't see himself fitting in at Auburn. Plus, Alabama now had Nick Saban. I figured if anyone was going to make me better it was going to be Coach Saban," he said.

And he looked at Alabama's depth chart. "I saw they were going to have a lot of seniors, so I knew I would have a good chance to play here," he said.

Jones didn't work with Saban last fall. "I was in the meetings, but then I worked with the scout team," he said. Now he is getting attention from the head coach, who works with cornerbacks in practice.

"It's kind of hard, actually," Jones said. "The pressure. You don't want to mess up. At the same time, if you do mess up, he's going to help you, make you better. I know I'm going to get better every day out there."

He said that practice is going well with players doing a lot of moving around. "We're moving around to try to get people in the right positions so that we have depth," he said.

Jones is working both at cornerback and at Star (nickel back).

Jones wasn't fooled when asked where is he on the depth chart.

"We don't have a depth chart," Jones said. "Everyone is just working hard and competing right now for one of the starting jobs. Hopefully, I'm somewhere up there."

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