"It's an honor to be presented with the Hardman Award," Jones said. "I certainly wasn't expecting it. This is a big event. I looked at the list of people who have won this award and I am honored to be on that list."
Jones, who isn't into the publicity game, was also quick to give credit to those around him.
"It isn't just about me," the Slickville, Pa, native said. "I owe any success I've had in this sport to my coaches, teammates, parents, and friends. I certainly haven't done anything, any of this by myself."
By any measure, Jones is one of the top wrestlers in the country. He was ranked number one in his weight class the entire 2004 season, but battled the pressure of being a marked man all the way through his national championship run. He did not give up an offensive point on his march to the NCAA title.
At the championships, Jones was an engine of almost perfect destruction. Combining cat quick offensive moves with awesome strength and power, Jones marched through the brackets like Sherman to the sea. He opened the tournament with a 22-7 major decision over Frank Cornerly of Duke, defeated a tentative Josh McLay of Minnesota 3-1, decisioned ninth-ranked Brian Glynn of Illinois 3-2, and dominated Paul Bradley of Iowa 8-3.
In the finals, Jones faced old rival Ben Heizer of Northern Illinois, who he wrestled previously in 2004. Although the second-ranked Heizer was familiar with Jones' style, he was unable to do anything with the talented Mountaineer junior, who scored early on the way to a 10-5 victory as his second national title.
Jones was twice named the Eastern Wrestling League Wrestler of the Week in 2004, and tallied a team leading 68 points in 14 dual meets to lead the Mountaineers in scoring. He capped 2004 with his second EWL wrestler of the year award, and is on his way to making it a run of three in a row in 2005.
Jones, who is looking for his third national title and is striving for another undefeated season in 2005, is a member of the Eastern Wrestling League and NWCA All-Academic Teams, and also a member of the WVU Athletic Director's Academic Honor Roll.
Jones is the second consecutive Mountaineer amd 29th overall to win the award. The 2003 honor went to linebacker Grant Wiley.
Jones celebrates his 2004 national title