A lot of freshmen, more than most realize, believe they will hit campus and be an instant star on the collegiate level.
When the reality that most do not attain that level slaps them in the face, there is sometimes a period of depression they have to deal with.
That has not been the case with Albany, GA, Linebacker Jason Jones.
He too thought he could come in and make an impact immediately, but after he sized up his situation, including his need to grow and learn, he went straight to work and skipped the woe-is-me part of the adjustment.
"I realized early on my best contribution to the team would be to be a great scout team player to help the main guys get ready for the next week and to set my sites on getting myself better for next year," said Jones, who is redshirting this season. "Scout team is a good experience too. It's important to give the team a good look on scout teams and it prepares you for the future by learning different defenses. I'm focused on that 110%."
Jones, who has been on campus since the second semester of summer school, has not squandered the opportunity to improve himself.
He was right on the borderline of being able to help in 2008, but when six older LBs emerged as "doable," the coaches felt it was best for him to take a year to get better.
"I have gained 13 pounds of good weight since I have been here," Jason said. "I weigh 235 pounds right now and came in here at 222. I want to get my chest and arms bigger and keep going.
"I have also gotten stronger. When I came out of high school, I could bench 280 - barely. Now I'm up to 310 pounds and I will keep pushing that as long as I am here."
Jason has taken a close look at the college game and understands what he has to do to impact in 2009.
"There is a lot to learn. Getting all the assignments and plays down is number one," he explained. "The game is a lot faster and more organized and you have to do things correctly for the defense to work. Everyone has assignments and one bust can go for six for the other team.
"Physically, I understand what has to be done. You have to be a man out there, a beast. You have to fight and be physical on this level. This is the SEC - you have to want it and you have to fight for it every play every week."
In high school, it was "Jason, go get the ball." In college, it's different, Jones has learned.
"It's much more about assignments and being in the right spots at the right time. I just hunted the ball in high school, but it's not that way in college," he continued. "If you don't make your fits and play disciplined and play with awareness, you will get burned in college."
Jason has realistic goals for his future at Ole Miss.
"I just want to help the team. I know it's a process and my destination is down the road, but any way I can help the team until I reach a higher level, I will do it. If it comes next year, great. If not, I know I will reach it when it's time," he closed. "I will stay disciplined and stay on point to what Coach Nutt and Coach Nix tell me to do."
Jason Jones -
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