Josh Jones bristled when he heard the phrase: “Underachiever.” Brandon Jones had simply arrived at Houston as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Josh Jones, on his fourth place coach in 5 years, figured one other employees was coming in and making pre-determined judgements in regards to the gamers on the Cougars’ roster.
That led to ideas about transferring. “We butted heads,” Josh Jones instructed 247Sports activities.
Brandon Jones served as Texas Tech’s o-line coach in 2017 and 2018 when the Purple Raiders performed Houston. On the time, Brandon Jones was a bit busy prepping for Ed Oliver to note the opposing offensive line. Former Texas Tech defensive position coach Terrance Jamison definitely did. As soon as Jamison heard Brandon Jones was headed to H-City, Jamison made positive to highlight the Cougars’ left sort out: “He has an opportunity to be fairly good.”
Movie backed up that premise. Brandon Jones noticed an enormous, 6-foot-5, 319-pound sort out with elite athleticism. He additionally watched a three-year starter that lacked a ending prowess and performed at a degree far under his capabilities, resulting in early clashes between the Joneses.
By the tip of spring ball, Josh Jones determined he needed to switch. He might go to a Energy 5 faculty and showcase his abilities in opposition to high-level competitors. However a dialog with Brandon Jones, the identical coach he partially needed to flee, modified his thoughts. Brandon Jones challenged Josh Jones to remain. He instructed him the stage in Houston was a lot large. Week 1 in opposition to Oklahoma would offer a nationwide highlight, and he’d assist Josh Jones enhance and attain the potential that popped so clearly on movie: “However you’ve bought to fulfill me midway and decide to it, as a result of it’s your aim and your dream,” Brandon Jones mentioned.
Practically 12 months later, Josh Jones is coming off an All-American senior season for the Cougars. He allowed a single sack through the 2019 marketing campaign, incomes an invitation to the 2020 Senior Bowl and rocketing up draft boards with a powerful efficiency there and on the NFL Mix. A number of days forward of the draft, Jones is taken into account a close to first-round lock. The previous three-star prospect went from nearly out the door to doubtless becoming a member of Ed Oliver as Houston’s second first-round decide in two years.
“It’s important to actually change the best way you suppose a bit bit,” Josh Jones mentioned. “You’ve bought to make the additional you had been doing then grow to be my baseline, the naked minimal. It’s important to push your self previous that. It’s important to do it each day.”
Spring mock draft blizzards have a tendency to rework even probably the most unheralded prospects into family names. Ye regardless of Jones’ standing as a possible first spherical decide, he stays comparatively unheralded.
Josh Jones is an offensive sort out, a place that doesn’t usually draw pre-draft hype. He additionally comes from a Group of 5 faculty – albeit a really notable program – a degree that initiatives to supply solely two first-round picks. The opposite, Jordan Love, bucks that G-5 pattern as a result of he is a hotly debated quarterback. One other issue is recruiting. Josh Jones is hardly the one three-star prospect prone to go excessive this draft cycle. However he by no means actually drew the attention of the faculty soccer world at massive throughout his profession at George Bush Excessive College (Richmond, Texas), rating because the No. 954 general participant within the 2015 class.
“He was simply actually beneath the radar,” George Bush Excessive College head coach Allen Aldridge mentioned. “He was a giant child. He had some good gives – he actually did. However he was simply choosing up steam his senior 12 months. Had he had yet another 12 months he in all probability would’ve had these gives.”
A part of Josh Jones’ standing as a late bloomer needed to do together with his basketball focus. Josh Jones performed AAU hoops by way of his junior summer season, harboring faculty basketball desires. Josh Jones didn’t absolutely go all-in on soccer till his senior 12 months. Aldridge doesn’t suppose it occurred till Josh Jones stepped on Houston’s campus.
Nonetheless, faculties observed the three-year starter at offensive sort out. Jones was a bit technically uncooked, however Aldridge, a Tremendous Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos, nonetheless thinks about how shortly Jones might get to the second degree as a blocker.
Josh Jones dedicated to Oklahoma State forward of his senior season. Houston got here into the image late. Tom Herman, a current arrival from Ohio State, employed outstanding Houston-area highschool coach, Corby Meekins, because the Cougars’ tight ends coach. That helped the Cougars get their foot within the door. As soon as that occurred, Herman and crew went all with your entire employees taking an in-home go to to see Josh Jones. That resulted in a flip simply forward of Nationwide Signing Day.
“Tom Herman noticed a bit little bit of curiosity and put the full-court press on me,” Josh Jones mentioned.
Step one among Josh Jones’ eventual emergence got here within the weight room. Err … the load space. When Josh Jones arrived on campus, the Cougars had been renovating their athletic facility. That meant weight racks had been taken out and positioned in the midst of the Cougars’ indoor follow area.
Josh Jones slowly added weight over the subsequent 12 months. He remembers carrying round snack packs that included granola bars, fruit snacks and even honey buns. He drank protein shakes and ate peanut butter in any respect hours. By the autumn of 2016, following a redshirt season, Josh Jones ballooned to 295 kilos forward of Houston’s season opener with Oklahoma, which might grow to be the primary begin of an extended profession.
“You don’t actually really feel it,” Josh Jones mentioned. “You discover your self getting larger and rising out of shirts. However you don’t actually really feel it. I used to be simply capable of maintain my very own higher on the sphere.”
These weight features – Josh Jones would go on to play at 310 and 315 as a sophomore and a junior – led to Josh Jones being among the many most constant presences within the American Athletic Convention. Josh Jones began 36 video games over the subsequent three seasons for the Cougars, probably the most constant presence on a roster that shuffled by way of coaches and even star gamers.
Derek Warehime coached the o-line in 2015 and 2016. Then got here Chris Scelfo (2017) when Main Applewhite took over as head coach. Applewhite employed Kendal Briles as offensive coordinator in 2018, which meant one other o-line change. This time Randy Clements took over the unit. Houston fired Applewhite following the 2018 season, which meant yet one more employees for Josh Jones and Cougars.
“The factor that was unfair to all of them was that they had a brand new line coach nearly yearly for the final 4 years,” Brandon Jones mentioned. “They hadn’t had an opportunity to develop in a selected scheme.”
As soon as Josh Jones moved previous his preliminary reservations about his new coach, they went to work.
Brandon Jones felt Josh Jones had a powerful base and the expertise from taking so many snaps in his profession. What wanted to vary was Josh Jones’ general soccer dedication and his down-to-down means to complete, which in o-line lingo means persevering with to speed up upfield whereas run blocking and sustaining management, stopping a defensive lineman from disengaging. It is a mixture of method and punch-them-in-the-chest nastiness.
Brandon Jones instructed (and nonetheless tells) his pupil: “What have you ever don’t to separate your self from the opposite (259) tackles in Division I soccer?”
That meant reworking his physique. Josh Jones performed his redshirt junior season at 310 kilos. Jones needed to chop that right down to 295 forward of his senior season. To take action, Josh Jones modified the best way he ate as soon as once more. He nonetheless needed to devour energy, simply in a unique trend: Wholesome, high-quality meats and leafy-greens (loads of spinach) and staying hydrated 24 hours a day.
Add in extra weight room hours and additional work on weekends, and Josh Jones dropped 13 kilos of physique fats and placed on eight kilos of muscle mass. He performed his senior season at a streamlined 295.
These bodily adjustments went hand-and-hand together with his on-field efforts. The concept of “ending” is one thing Jones attacked all through 2019. His extra bodily health and an altered mindset to drag a bit bit extra out of himself made Josh Jones one of many nation’s prime general linemen. By Houston’s Week three sport with Washington State, Josh Jones felt like a dominant power.
Josh Jones completed the 2019 season with a 93.four general grade, per PFF College, the fourth-highest single-season grade by an offensive sort out since 2014 – it’s additionally the very best on report by a G5 prospect. For context, Jones was a median starter when it comes to manufacturing the primary three years of his faculty profession. His play elevated to the purpose Brandon Jones remembers his left sort out sometimes bristling at mid-80s PFF grades: “I performed higher than that!”
Brandon Jones demanded his pupil alter his outlook final spring, establishing a mandate: Be a professional daily.
When Jones determined to return to Houston for his redshirt senior 12 months, Josh Jones instructed his coach: “I am 100 % dedicated and I want your assist.” Over the subsequent 12 months, Jones met that mandate.
“He’s the perfect sort out I’ve had, and this can be my 12th 12 months teaching Division I o-line,” Brandon Jones mentioned. “He simply has it.”
Josh Jones and Brandon Jones communicate often now. They cast a bond by way of preliminary strife that’s allowed Josh Jones to rework into a possible first-round decide; Josh Jones mentioned he’s spoken to greater than half the groups within the league, and Brandon Jones mentioned he’d count on Josh Jones to return off the board someplace between No. 15 and No. 32.
Both method, Josh Jones discovered a method to alter his mindset, pushing him from underachiever to precisely what he hopped to be.
“You solely get one shot of going into the NFL Draft,” Josh Jones mentioned. “That’s one factor I actually was striving for. It was giving myself the perfect alternative I can. I attacked it each single day.”
— to 247sports.com