Driven by a Family Tragedy, Georgia Linebacker Jarvis Jones Is the SEC’s Best Defensive Player

The Memory of a Brother Fuels a Fierce Inner Fire

Compared to other challenges Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones has overcome, being the SEC’s best defensive player sounds easy. On top of the serious spinal injury he suffered in 2009 while at USC, and NCAA investigations into his guardians’ paying for his flights to and from Los Angeles, Jones’s most consuming tragedy came as an eighth grader, when his older brother was murdered during an argument outside a bar. Driven to keep his brother’s memory alive, Jones plans to make the most of his remaining time at Georgia and pledge that when he turns pro he will work to ensure other kids in his hometown don’t meet the same fate. He says: “I just want to show them that there’s more to life than being on the streets smoking marijuana, drinking and getting into trouble. You can do positive things” (page 61).

Andy Staples highlights not only the personal challenges Jones has faced, but also the ways he wreaks havoc on SEC quarterbacks. After Jones was released from his scholarship at USC, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham recruited Jones to play in a system similar to the one he employed while with the Dallas Cowboys. Grantham needed relentlessness, and Jones delivered: He is the SEC leader in sacks (13 1/2) and tackles for loss (19 1/2), and is the star of his Georgia team, leading with eight tackles for loss,  4 1/2 sacks and 14 quarterback pressures. Though he caught the eye of some NFL scouts, Jones thought he could improve his draft stock by having another standout college season. Jones is already researching ways to form a foundation and build a recreational center for children in his hometown, should he find financial success in the NFL. There is a long way to go before it can be built, but Jones knows it will be named after his brother. He says: “I feel like [he] walks with me every day.”


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