Ready to leave it all on the field

It's only going to be a couple of days before Husker commit and junior college transfer Andre Jones will hit Lincoln. It's a couple of days to a point that at one time, Jones thought might take forever. It's almost here, though, and Jones feels the pressure, but not from everyone else. He's putting plenty on himself, and he's planning on delivering in full.

I am sure we can all recall when senior-to-be Zack Bowman strolled onto campus in Lincoln, dubbed the next……………whoever.

He had the stars, the hype and the expectations. Heck, it got so bad, it was guaranteed in some circles that he would be one-and-done, spending just enough time in Division 1-A to get acclimated, and then after he blew the competition away, it would be off to the first round of the NFL Draft.

Then again

It's not to say Bowman had a bad first year as a starting cornerback for the Huskers. But the fact that he didn't even start opposite Cortney Grixby until the Oklahoma game at the end of October, it should tell you that the transition isn't just about ability.

Andre Jones knows this all too well. "It's not just about having your body right, but having your mind right about what you have to do, the defense you are going to play and the system," Jones said. "That's why I am so excited to get there early, because I want to pick up every little thing I can, so I can be as ready as I can be for fall."

That anticipation has been sitting with Jones since the day he committed back in early October. Jones said from that day to now, time has decided to slow down. "It has just crawled. I can't believe how long it seems like it has taken to get to this point," he said. "You wait and that seems like all you do is wait for that time to finally come around."

The connection to Bowman has been obvious and noted since Jones committed to the Huskers. Like Bowman, he was a superstar junior college player, who had the size, the speed and the instincts for the game. Even Jones would say that physically, they are much alike, but what Jones found the most surprising in their similarities was Bowman's reaction, along with fellow corner Cortney Grixby, when he officially signed with the big red.

"They were as excited as I was when I signed," Jones said of Bowman and Grixby's reaction. "Some players worry about the competition, but not those two guys. They wanted me there. They said they needed me and that is what makes you feel like you know you made the right choice."

"Even guys you are competing against want you as part of the family."

The competition will be fierce. While Bowman struggled early in the season, he finished in style, proving a tourniquet to Colorado's deep-passing attack and a bane to anything Michigan tried to do against him in the Alamo Bowl. Bowman's star might have taken more time than some fans might have thought, but it could be well on its way to rising toward the top this year.

As for Grixby, he's arguably Nebraska's best pure corner, sporting athleticism like few others on the team can even hope, plus the familiarity with the system even Bowman doesn't have as of yet.

Jones knows he has his hands full, but you only have to ask his future position coach what he liked so much about Jones during the entire recruiting process. "All the times I talked to that young man, he never once brought up the depth chart," Phil Elmassian said of Jones after signing day this year. "He didn't care. That's what you want. You don't want someone who's thinking about who they have to beat. You want someone that will just come in and do what it takes."

Andre said that's all he's been thinking about since the day he said he wanted to be part of the big red. "I plan on doing my best, being in the best shape of my life and giving everything I have to get on the field as soon as I can," he said. "Whatever that gets me, hey, that's what it gets me."

"This stuff doesn't come to you overnight and you have to learn to be patient sometimes, even if it's something you want really bad. This is like anything else. It takes time, but I'm hoping by coming in this early, I'll be able to catch up a little before fall gets here."

Fall will get here eventually, but there's a downside for Jones in that he won't be going to Nebraska with the teammate, who committed to Nebraska the same day as he did. Linebacker Steve Allen won't be able to be a Husker.

It's a bad situation for Allen and Jones only wishes things could have gone better for him during the first part of his junior college career when he was in Kansas. "That whole deal is messed up, because Steve didn't even know his clock was running," Andre said of Allen's eligibility clock, when he attended a junior college in Kansas, but didn't play football. "He was supposed to be a part-time student there so his clock wouldn't start, but they made him full-time instead."

"It wasn't until Nebraska got his transcripts that they realized that school had him full-time, which started his clock and meant he would only have a year to play at Nebraska. Even Steve didn't know. Now he's just going to play in Division II at West Texas."

Jones will miss having Steve, because he was obviously his friend, but he'll miss Steve Allen the player too. From his film, his size and stats, we can figure that this kid could play the game. But Jones said that what we saw on tape doesn't even compare to what you could have seen in person.

"Man, I know that guy made me look good," Jones said of Allen. "He'd make play after play, and you couldn't even stop him. I am going to miss playing behind him, because he made my job so much easier than it would have been if he wouldn't have been there. That boy could play."

On the plus-side, though, Jones knows that he'll be going into a pretty decent situation at linebacker at Nebraska. In fact, he knows it's better than good. He knows it could be one of the best in the country, and one name, or in this case, one body stuck out in his mind.

"I remember when I was there on my visit and I saw Steve Octavien," Jones said. "He wasn't playing, because he was injured and on crutches, but all you had to do was look at that guy."

"I was like ‘man, this guy is thick', and to think that he's a linebacker, yeah, between him and all those other guys coming back, it's going to be nice to watch those guys wreak havoc on offenses."

Don't think Andre wants to let them have all the fun, though. Of course he wants to be a part of the action. Of course he wants to be a huge impact player the instant he steps on the field. Of course he would like to blow up his first year, do even better his second year, and then get drafted in the first round of the NFL.

Reality says something different, however, and that's something Jones knows all too well. Sometimes it throws you a curve ball, which you just have to learn how to hit. One thing will make it happen and one thing won't, and Andre already knows too well which is which.

"Talk is talk and that doesn't win you any games," he said. "I could sit here and say all this stuff, but that's not me and that's not how you become a team player. You do your talking with what you do on the field. The rest of that stuff doesn't matter."

"If we do everything we set out to do, we won't need to say a word. Everyone will know what to expect."

Andre knows what to expect of himself. It's the same thing he has expected of himself since he was a kid. From what his mom taught him about discipline as she was an accomplished athlete in track, he's applied that to his regiment every single day.

Now he just wants to get to Lincoln, so he can do a little more, take it to yet another level, and step onto that field as a "blackshirt." He's confident it will be there at some point. He doesn't know when and won't make any predictions other than the one he knows he'll live up to every single time:

"I'm going to give it everything I have, work my hardest and do whatever it takes to do what I know I can do," he said. "I have a lot of confidence, but you can't predict the future. I just know that when practice or the game is over, you aren't going to see a lot of me afterwards, because I'm leaving it all out on the field."

Big Red Report Top Stories