From Pop Warner to Rutgers, all Greg Jones wanted was shot to play professional football.
For that reason, the former walk-on linebacker will be one of 13 workout participants at Rutgers Pro Day.
“This has always been my dream — to even have an opportunity to consider yourself an option for the NFL,” Jones said. “People don’t even get this opportunity to present their case to NFL coaches. It’s just my dream, and I’m not ready to give it up.”
By now, everyone knows the well-documented journey Jones took for a walk-on opportunity to play football for his dream school at Rutgers.
With Pro Day, he takes one more stab at the game that gave him a life of opportunity.
Five months after Jones was carted off the field at Ohio State and taken to the hospital with what was eventually diagnosed as a career-ending neck injury, he sought a second opinion at the beginning of the month when he was due for a reevaluation.
“I’m not cleared to play football yet,” Jones said. “I was told, when I went to the hospital the first time and went for my MRIs and everything, we sat down and we spoke. They said they didn’t want me working out, as far as football went, for three months. Then, they wanted me to come get another evaluation, another check up, another MRI this month to see how my progress (from October to March) went.
“It was never necessarily, ‘You’re not cleared to do anything.’ It’s just, football related, I wasn’t allowed to do anything. It was just football related, and that made a lot of sense. Obviously, I’m not going to be able to put on a helmet and go out and knock heads with guys right after messing around with my neck.”
Jones awaits the results of the recent evaluation.
“I went for my MRI the other day,” Jones said. “I’m waiting for the radiologist to tell me whether the doctor thinks I should play or whatever the case may be. But even then, it’s just something that you’ve got to live with at some point. You’ve got to make a decision as your own person whether what’s right for you or wrong for you.
“If the doctor says it’s not a go (to play football), then obviously, it’s not a go. But if he says it is, that’s a decision I make for myself and sit down and talk to my family and we’ll go from there.”
After time off, Jones returned to his workouts. Jones currently trains in Chatham, New Jersey, at the Annex Sports Performance Center where he said Justin Goodwin trained prior to Rutgers.
“I’ve been training specifically for Pro Day,” Jones said. “I haven’t been doing it for a really long time — I actually just got put into the mix of the training for about three weeks now with these guys — and beforehand, I was just doing regular stuff on my own, just to try and stay in shape.
“I knew for a fact I wanted to be able to participate in the Pro Day and I just, at the time, didn’t have the right connections to get me anywhere, any type of help besides Rutgers. My mom was sick, so I wasn’t able to be at Rutgers all the time. It all just wasn’t working out in the beginning, and then my good friend helped me out getting to The Annex and it worked out for me.”
Between his mother’s illness and his own recovery, Jones juggled a loaded schedule. He remains on track to graduate at the end of the spring with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.
Through it all, he said he remains locked in.
“Being near my family was real important, just knowing my mom was going through something,” Jones said. “It doesn’t change your mindset as to do you want to go harder because obviously, that’s motivation. Just the thought of your mom not being 100 percent, it kind of wears you down a little bit.”