For Brad Jones the path from Canton McKinley High School to the University of Cincinnati was much easier than the path to the field turf of Nippert Stadium has been since arriving on the Cincinnati campus.
But it's not been for a lack of trying or work as Jones has been fighting since the day he arrived on campus to get on the field and show why the Bearcats coaching staff under Mark Dantonio felt so highly of him.
"This is the last spring and I've been waiting my turn to step up and be a leader. I've played behind Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith since I got here but now it's my chance to be a leader and step up my game."
Looking back now Jones knows he's been part of something special. But he's always felt that way about being a Bearcat.
"Coming from McKinley, a big time high school program in the state and getting the chance to play for Mark Dantonio made Cincinnati the best place for me in the country. I knew I would grow as a defensive player here under Coach Dantonio and I did. Now with Coach Kelly, I know now Cincinnati was definitely my best opportunity looking back. I have no regrets as I've played behind some great players since I've been here with Mickens and DeAngelo and I learned a lot from them. Now it's my turn to get the job done just as they have done."
So far this spring, Jones has shown he's up to the challenges as he knows he's got all the physical tools to get the job done.
"I've been caught in a game of numbers here. I could have gone to other schools and been a two or three year starter but I wouldn't be a better player than I am right now. So now is my time to shine. I know I've got the tools to get the job done and that is my goal now and for next season."
While Jones is excited about his own future he's also excited that some of the younger players are stepping up their own game.
"The biggest surprise so far for me this spring has been the play of Camerron Cheatham. He's a real fast kid and he's making plays this spring. The other is Reuben Johnson, he reminds me a lot of Mike Mickens as he talks a lot of trash and has a high motor to go get the ball and excel on every play."
Jones knows Brian Kelly is looking for leaders this spring to step up and he's hoping to show enough to earn the head coaches respect.
"I feel for me to step up and be more of a vocal leader is very important. I'm a veteran on this team and as a defense we need to find guys to replace those who have left their mark on the program."
While other players may have left their feelings get in the way of their progress Brad Jones knows football is a numbers game. This spring he hopes to put himself in position to add to his numbers on the field next fall.
Working For His Turn
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