A breakout year for Junior Safety

Sean Jones has quietly become one of the best players in the conference.



ATHENS - When Georgia fans relive last year's Auburn game, it always seems to be Michael Johnson's game-winning touchdown that starts and finishes the conversation.

The show that Sean Jones put on seems all but forgotten. The No. 7 Bulldogs' junior safety intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble in the first quarter to keep Georgia in that game. Georgia's coaches haven't forgotten Jones' impact on that game, mainly because of the effect it has had on Jones in the six games since.

Those 15 minutes seemed to gave Jones the only thing he'd been missing in his three seasons in Athens -- confidence, secondary coach Willie Martinez said.

Jones and Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) play at No. 11 LSU (3-0) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium.

"We all knew Sean was a very good athlete. He was capable of being as good as he wanted to be," Martinez said. "Ever since the Auburn game, his level has raised. He's just been a different guy."

Not many people noticed though. When the preseason started, all the talk was about Kentrell Curry, who plays beside Jones. Curry, who has missed the first three games of the season due to a stress fracture, was named second-team preseason All-SEC. Jones wasn't on the list.

"He may not be out in the public, but as a team we know how important he is," Curry said. "When I think about my publicity, I include him because he's my partner."

Jones said, "Kentrell is one of my brothers so I had no hard feelings toward that. That just meant I needed to work harder."

Jones has worked harder since the Auburn game, Martinez said, and has transferred that from the practice field to the playing field. He's third on the team with 25 tackles and is tied for the SEC lead in interceptions with two, both of which came last week in Georgia's SEC opener.

Cornerback Decory Bryant said it's hard to believe anybody wouldn't notice Jones.  "I think Sean Jones' play speaks for itself," he said. "I don't think you can overlook the guy."

Georgia first noticed Jones while he was a quarterback at Westlake High School in Atlanta. He threw for 2,490 yards and 31 touchdowns and ran for 806 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior, and he signed with the Bulldogs in the class that included David Greene and Matt Redding.

Even though it appeared from the start his future was elsewhere on the field, it was still tough to take when he was moved to safety in 2001, Jones said.

"I was 100 percent on being a quarterback, but everything in life doesn't work out like you want it to," he said.

Now, he's more comfortable on defense than he ever was as a quarterback, he said. So confident, in fact, that he's convinced he could make another move if he was asked.

"If they put me at wide receiver tomorrow, I think I can do it," he said. "That's just my attitude about life in general."

That certainly makes it easier not to worry about whether anyone outside the program is noticing him or not.

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