Jack Jones thought he had it all figured out. The five-star Long Beach (Calif.) Polytechnic product felt he was going to be able to step in and contribute right away as a freshman.
He felt he had the tools and the skill set to be an impact collegiate player for USC from the start. It took him nearly a month before things became clearer.
“Coming into the season, I felt like I had good technique. After being here a couple of weeks, I realized my technique is all out of sync. I've got to get back to it. I've got to get in the lab. I've got to really focus. I've got to watch film, see what I'm doing wrong, what can I improve on.”
Jones had to humble himself and get back to work. Since his personal revelation, he’s slowly seen improvements in his craft and has earned more and more playing time.
“Ever since I came up with a mindset to really study film and work on my technique, I feel like my game has jumped up.”
“Just coming in as a freshman is different coming from high school to college. Just really getting used to it and getting my feet wet and attacking the season now.”
It hasn’t hurt that Jones has been able to learn behind one the nation’s most dynamic playmakers at cornerback, Thorpe Award winner Adoree' Jackson. Jackson is always willing to give the younger players pointers on technique.
“I've learned a lot,” Jones said. “He’s taught me a lot on the field, off the field, attitude wise. Just little things such as a step when I'm jamming — take this step instead of this step. Turn this way instead of this way. It's just all little things. The big things they'll come, but it's the little things that makes the big things fall in place.”
Jackson has also shown a blueprint for how Jones can be an impact player with a 5-foot-11 frame. In a game full of behemoth 300 pounders, Jones has seen the effect that some extra muscle can have allowing a smaller player to endure the rigors of the season. Jackson plays at 185 pounds while Jones is currently 170. Ten or fifteen pounds can make a huge difference.
“These guys are a lot bigger. In high school everyone is the same size, but coming here, weight really matters. You can't really play at 150. You've got to come in. You've got to gain weight. You've got to take care of your body.”
The lessons learned from Jackson as well as defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast have helped Jones improve “tremendously.”
Those improvements will soon be on display in front of a national audience when USC plays Penn State in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2. For Jones, the opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl is a dream come true. Growing up all he heard about was the Rose Bowl. There wasn’t much concern for the BCS or the SEC. It was all about the Rose Bowl.
“It's the Super Bowl,” Jones said. “Everybody wanted to go to the Rose Bowl and sit at the Rose Bowl and watch the game, so this is the Super Bowl.”
Watch Jack Jones, above, talk about his progression as a freshman and how different the college game has proven to be. He also discusses learning from Adoree' Jackson and the opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl.
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