Mental Game

Sunday marked a one-year anniversary that <b>Greg Jones</b> would rather forget. It was at Wake Forest, last Nov. 2, when Jones' life turned upside down. Jones, Florida State's powerful and punishing tailback, tore his anterior cruciate ligament and injured his medial collateral ligament in the Seminoles' 34-21 win over the Demon Deacons. Much has changed since that fateful afternoon. It‘s not a secret. Jones admits he's not the same runner -- yet.

‘Yeah, I've been thinking about that - it being a year already," Jones told TheTerritory in this exclusive interview.

"Sometimes during the (rehabilitation) process it seemed like the season would never come. But once it got here, it started rolling. I've learned to be patient though. I am trying to get to my old form back.

"Now that is has been a year, I think it's more mental than anything. Still, I am not 100 percent. I think I am around 90 percent. I don't feel the same way like I was before the injury. What am I missing? That burst. When I used to get the ball, I used to come out of my stance with that burst. That's it right there. That burst.

"I am missing it."

The polite and personable Jones is still considered an important weapon as the third-ranked Seminoles (8-1) head into the home stretch of the regular-season. FSU, which also was third in today's Bowl Championship Series ranking behind Oklahoma and Southern Cal, is at Clemson Saturday.

Jones, a senior from Beaufort, S.C., became only the seventh player in school history to rush for 2,000 or more career yards with his 88-yard rushing performance against Maryland earlier this season. He needs 178 yards to surpass Sammie Smith and move into fifth place in Seminole history (2,362 yards).

Jones, who leads the Seminoles with 445 rushing yards, is averaging under 10 carries per game for the Seminoles this season. He was limited to nine yards on seven carries in last Saturday's 37-0 win at Notre Dame.

Jones' diminished role has been by design due to health and depth.

Lorenzo Booker and Leon Washington also have played well, offering contrasting styles that compliment Jones' bulldozing approach. Jones, the consummate team player, refuses to complain.

"It's working out great because you always have fresh legs in the game," Jones said. "All of us are capable of getting the job done."

And it should come as no surprise Jones continues to work daily in an effort to improve his knee. Jones, who tested out around 80 percent on the Cybex machine prior to the season, is scheduled for another test following the N.C. State game Nov. 15.

Believing he's around "90 percent," Jones continues to exercise, lift and ice to help strengthen his knee as well as prevent tendonitis.

"If I don't do all that my knee starts getting a little sore," Jones said.

"I am doing one-legged squats, knee extensions, a lot of flexing. It's getting stronger. For running backs, you can play but it takes two years to get back to where you were. It's coming. I can see it coming. But it takes time."

Jones was enjoying a banner season a year ago entering the Wake Forest game. He averaged 104.2 yards a game and finished with 938 yards and eight touchdowns. He was just 62 yards shy of becoming the eighth 1,000-yard rusher in school history.

Jones believes one day he will be just as effective as a runner as he was before the injury. But it's going to take mental and physical toughness. He continues to work on both.

"Right now I think it's more mental than physical, "Jones said.

"At the beginning of the process it was all physical. At the end, it's mental. Going back out there and playing… it's mental. I am feeling good. I am fine. I am getting there."

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