The Greg Jones road to Rutgers was neither easy nor swift, but the fire burned for a former Woodbridge (N.J.) Colonia star athlete.
During stints at Monroe College, Middlesex Community College and East Stroudsburg, Jones looked to another Colonia star for inspiration – one that never gave up.
“Growing up, I’m looking up to Eric LeGrand and all of the things that he’s done at Colonia and I’m like, ‘I’ve got to break this record. I’ve got to break that,” Jones said.
Jones earned a Rutgers roster spot at the 11th hour last season.
Expecting to finish his college career outside of the spotlight, a call from former defensive coordinator Joe Rossi before training camp earned Jones a Rutgers jersey.
“Coming here behind Eric and seeing what happened with Eric, it just made me realize that I need to give my all every single day because opportunities like this don’t come every single day,” Jones said. “When you have an opportunity and you go as hard as a guy like Eric went, Eric’s one of those guys I looked up to my whole life. He works his behind off all the time. That’s what we trained ourselves as at Colonia and that’s what I try to bring myself.”
The scout team housed Jones in 2015 after he picked up significant practice reps in training camp. Jones moved to defense midway through the season for depth reasons, and checked in as a second-team strongside linebacker to begin spring practice under coach Chris Ash.
The rotation is far from set, but Jones is proud of his start with Ash and defensive coordinator Jay Niemann.
“This stuff that we go through is to build you into a different type of man,” Jones said. “Sometimes, it’s like ‘wow.’ It pushes you to a different limit. It pushes you to limits you didn’t know you had. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got every single day. That’s what I think [the coaches] notice.”
Jones has a plethora of experience on both sides of the ball. He was a two-way player for Colonia before a hybrid defensive role at East Stroudsburg and offensive spotlight with Monroe.
“I’m a running back but I’ll play anywhere,” Jones said. “I love football. That’s all I care about. … I grew up a Rutgers fan, so this stuff to me is just a beautiful thing. Sometimes I’m in shock that I’m here, but I’m blessed to be here.”null