By David Fong
Regional Sports Editor
TROY — For Garrett Jones, it was love at first sight.
“I looked around at a couple of different schools, but I knew right off the bat I liked it at Ohio Northern,” Jones said. “I really liked the campus. I met the coaches and everyone else and I just loved it. I felt like I fit in really good.”
Which is why, when it came time to decide where to go to college and continue his football career, it didn’t take the Troy senior long to make a decision. Jones recently signed his letter of intent to Ohio Northern.
Truthfully, the only question left is what position Jones will play. At Troy, he saw time at both linebacker and defensive line. The Polar Bear coaching staff liked Jones’ versatility and have told him he could end up playing either position in college.
“They’ve talked about keeping me in the same position (defensive end), but they’ve also talked to me about moving to middle linebacker. They think I could play at the rush end or inside. They told me one of the things they like about me is that I’m versatile and can do a lot of different things on the football field.”
Jones began his career at outside linebacker, earning a starting varsity spot as a junior. That year, he was one of the Trojans’ leading tacklers. It also was the first time Jones began to seriously consider the idea he could one day become a college football player.
“I think it was right before my junior year, during camp two-a-days, that I realized I could do it,” he said. “To me, that was a big deal when I found out I was going to be starting at linebacker.”
When Troy graduated all of its starting defensive linemen prior to the start of last season, however, former Troy coach Matt Burgbacher approached Jones about the idea of moving to defensive end. Jones was willing to make the move and responded with a huge season, recording 59 tackles, 5.5 quarterback sacks, seven tackles for loss, two fumbles recoveries — one of which he returned for a touchdown — and one forced fumble. He also blocked a punt on special teams.
Following the season, Jones was named first-team All-Greater Western Ohio Conference American League North Division and to the All-Southwest District Division II second team.
“What I’ll remember most about ‘Jonesie’ was the fact he was willing to do anything and everything for our football team,” Burgbacher said. “One year we had him playing running back. The next year we moved him to outside linebacker. The next year when we went to him and asked him to move to defensive line, all he said was, ‘If that’s what’s best for the team, I’ll do it, coach.’ That’s just the type of kid he is. He’s the kind of kid you love to be around.
“He got experience playing two different positions in high school, and I think that’s going to help him in college. Ohio Northern is getting a kid who can play anyplace they put him. They are also getting a great student and a great football player.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong