When Greg Jones fell to the turf at Ohio Stadium, he tried to get up. Rutgers trainers rushed to him before he could attempt to roll over.
The fifth-year senior linebacker went down after the helmet-to-helmet contact with teammate Trevor Morris on a tackle attempt midway through the first quarter at Ohio State. Moments later, he was strapped down on a stretcher and in an ambulance
“Other than the pins and needles shooting from my ears to my feet, I really didn’t feel emotional or any type of emotion at all — I didn’t,” Jones said. “I wasn’t really nervous or anything like that because I could see my hands moving. So I was just like, ‘I’m all right. I’ll be all right.’ And everybody behind me and my teammates were there, so I just felt comforted.”
By the fourth quarter, Jones was back on the sidelines and walking. He returned from Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center after precautionary measures and said he felt fine.
But when Jones returned to Rutgers for a follow-up appointment with a specialist, he received the worst-case scenario of news.
He was out for the season with a career-ending injury.
“I wasn’t really sure what to feel,” Jones said. “I wasn’t, like, all the way there yet. I didn’t believe it, to be honest — and I still don’t, honestly. I felt like I can still come back.”
While Jones watches from the sidelines as the Scarlet Knights (2-6, 0-5) continue through the second half of their season, he doesn’t let the injury limit him. Jones still attends practices to provide team support and guidance to the younger members of the linebacker group.
“It’s just letting the guys know that I’m there for them, and they’re just there and I still try to give them as much enthusiasm as I can,” Jones said. “I try to help them out a lot, and I feel like it helps them.”
For Jones, there were plenty of other instances in the past where he hit limitations.
His journey to his dream school at Rutgers wasn’t without adversity, and he said his past experiences built him to handle the latest curveball.
“I feel like I’m stronger because of it,” Jones said. “I don’t feel like this is anything negative. I feel like this is a blessing. Either way, whatever way it goes, it’s still a blessing and I feel like God has a plan for me. So I’m going to work through that.”
Jones, a walk-on who earned his scholarship at the start of the season, said he is on track to finish his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice by the end of the spring semester.
In the time away from football, Jones said he locks in on those studies. Jones also said he started workouts and regained physical activity outside of football.
Jones even touched base with fellow Colonia (N.J.) High product Eric LeGrand. Jones said the two shared a conversation on their respective injuries, and LeGrand told him to keep his spirits up.
“(LeGrand) just told me, like, I inspire a lot of people — my hustle, my work ethic and everything — and he said he was inspired by me,” Jones said. “He was like, ‘Don’t let this get (you) down.’ Whatever I need, he’ll be there for me.”
Jones, who earned the Eric LeGrand Courage Award at Colonia during his senior year, said those sentiments meant the world.
“He’s always been an inspiration to me,” Jones said. “I mean, obviously, my goal to be here (at Rutgers) was even stronger because (LeGrand) was here. He didn’t get a chance to finish and, I mean, I wanted to do everything that I could to make him happy and make people that we know from back home happy.”