Jones Draws comparisons to Pollack

ATHENS - Perhaps no player at Georgia since David Pollack approaches football the same way Ben Jones does

The two traits that Georgia coaches think will serve Ben Jones the best on the college football field, he came by naturally.

The first is toughness. That came from his father, who graduated from UGA with a degree in forestry and moved to Alabama, where he had a logging business, a tree planting business and a cattle farm.

"We were always working on the farm, loading hay in the summer or something like that," said Jones, who signed with the Bulldogs in February and competed in spring practice this year. "There was always something to do out there on the farm."

Jones became a Bulldog forever when his dad died when he was 10 years old.

"That kind of motivated me more," he said. "I kept on wanting to come here, that was my dream since then."

He made that dream into a reality with a standout career at Bibb County High School in Centreville, Ala. Jones was named a Class AAAAA first team all-state player and was rated the nation's third-best center by at the time he signed with the Bulldogs. He also played defensive tackle for Bibb County and had 55 tackles and three sacks as a senior.

Jones' toughness shines through on the field, Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner said.

"He may not look that pretty, but he is a tough, tough kid, and all the other kids already seem to gravitate toward him," Garner said. "Those three other midyear guys gravitate to Ben Jones. He's just got natural leadership abilities."

Georgia head coach Mark Richt heard about Jones before he ever saw him play in person or on film.

"Rumors were swirling around that he was a tough son of a gun," Richt said.

On top of his toughness, Jones adds an intensity that is unusual even among college football players, Garner and Richt said.

"He's bringing an attitude we need from a d-line position standpoint because I think he's going to get after our (defensive linemen)," said Garner, who coaches Georgia's defensive tackles. "He ain't going to quit. He's not going to be intimidated. I think he's going to make the offensive line tougher."

Jones' intensity reminds Richt of former Bulldog David Pollack, who went full speed on the practice field to the point that his teammates would get mad at him for showing them up.

"It's going to be interesting to see how (Jones) does here," Richt said. "I know he's going to start out with that same fire. We'll see how long it lasts. I don't think it'll be tempered much. I think he's going to get after it. I think some guys probably aren't going to like it much, but some guys just aren't worried about that. It's just who he is and how he goes about his business. Some guys think guys like that are trying to show off."

Jones' intensity comes from growing up with older brother Clay. Clay Jones is two years older than Ben and will play baseball for Alabama this year after spending the last two years playing at a junior college in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

"He always beat me," Ben Jones said. "He was a lot better athlete than me. He was on the basketball team. I was always looking up to him and competing with him."

(Ben Jones followed in his brother's footsteps in baseball, setting a Bibb County record with 48 RBI in 2007. He batted .345 for his career and was named to the Mobile Register's Elite 18 in baseball and football.)

Losing to brother Clay for so many years left a bad taste in Ben's mouth.

"I've always tried to win everything," he said. "I get mad if I lose in cards or anything. I just can't stand to lose at anything. I always try to do my best in everything. It probably started with my brother. I was always trying to beat him so when I had a chance to beat somebody, I wanted to beat them bad in everything."

Jones' toughness and competitiveness could be very important for Georgia on the field as soon as this season. If guard Chris Davis is to be believed, Jones is being groomed to replace Fernando Velasco as the Bulldogs' starting center in 2008. Davis said during last season that he doesn't expect to move to center because the coaching staff thinks Jones will be able to start there as a true freshman. Still, Jones didn't nail that spot down during spring drills.

That would be quite a testament to his skill.

"I've got to see if I can do it," Jones said. Offensive line coach Stacy Searels "said I've got a chance, like all the other guys. I have to prove myself."

The prospect of starting doesn't faze Jones, he said.

"If it comes down to it, I think I can handle it because I know coach and them aren't going to start me if I can't handle it," he said.

At center, Jones would have to be the vocal leader of the offensive line, making sure the upperclassmen around him were doing what they were supposed to do and telling them about it if they weren't.

"That doesn't bother me at all," Jones said. "I think I can step up and speak up."

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