Jonathan: So far, so good. I haven't noticed any difference as far as thinking about them on the field, or being tentative to hit at all. So they've done really well so far.
VM: When you are about to lay a big lick on someone-- which you are very good at doing, by the way-- in that split second before you hit him, does anything go through your mind? Does it take anything off of the hit?
Jonathan: Not any more. Used to be, if I was going in a certain way... it wasn't even a conscious thing. It might have even been that unconsciously I'd adjust my shoulders a little bit to make sure they didn't get hit the wrong way. But the more you're out there, you get more and more confident, and now I don't think about it at all.
VM: I don't think most people understand just what you went through with those shoulders. For a while there you were wondering if you were going to play again.
Jonathan: My left shoulder, which they reconstructed after my freshman year, got back to where I could just lift with it in June before my sophomore year, and it never really got back to full strength before the season. And it still, even now, I wouldn't say it would never bother me. But my right shoulder, I hurt it a little bit during my freshman year, and they said it would be OK for a while. Then last spring I hurt it again, and I didn't know if I'd be able to play again. It was pretty bad off.
VM: Tell about those casts you had to wear.
Jonathan: There were really two separate incidents. For the left one, I had a big metal contraption that went all the way over one shoulder and kind of wrapped around my midsection. One side was all plastic and metal. It basically immobilized the shoulder for six weeks, eight weeks. The second time I just had a sling on for eight weeks. Neither one was very fun. Those were both pretty tough times.
VM: In school, you're finishing up your third year here. You'll play as a redshirt junior, but this will be your fourth year. How far along are you in school?
Jonathan: I'm on track to graduate in four years.
VM: So you're probably not going to be around for your fifth year?
Jonathan: I won't be an undergrad. I'll probably go to grad school and play for the fifth year.
VM: But that's still a little bit up in the air.
Jonathan: We'll see. You never know.
VM: And what are you majoring in?
Jonathan: Philosophy and religious studies.
VM: And I imagine you are the only football player doing that.
Jonathan: (Laugh) I think so.
VM: With the new coaching staff, I assume the defensive schemes will be different. Talk about what that will mean for the strong safety.
Jonathan: The scheme is different in a lot of ways. I'll probably be helping out on the run a lot more, and concentrating on getting up in there with the big boys. But overall it's not a whole lot different. A safety always has to be able to cover the pass and help on the run. There is some new terminology and new calls and stuff.
VM: Tell me some of the young defensive backs you've been impressed with.
Jonathan: All the freshmen have really impressed me. Cheron Thompson and Dominique Morris have been out there making a lot of plays. They were both redshirt freshmen last year. We've got Ben Koger and Ronnie Swoopes who just came in at safety, and they're doing really well. And Kelechi Ohanaja, who just came in in January-- he's made some really good plays out there. They've all got some potential. There's definitely a lot of competition going on.
VM: I remember there was a story about how your granddad used to take you to Vanderbilt games when you were a kid. Tell me about that.
Jonathan: It was my mom's dad, Joseph Ross. He was an associate vice-chancellor, and did a lot of stuff with the hospitals. He had season tickets, and he would bring me to every home game. I remember driving over to the UT game in Knoxville when I was about 10, me, my dad and him. I was decked out in black and gold-- I think it was about a 45-0 game! But when I was growing up, it was always my dream to play for Vanderbilt.