November 17, 2010

Former SC transfer feels at home

The post-practice interview session was a pot-luck of sorts, as school selected players were made available following Georgia's brief walk-through session Wednesday afternoon.

That being the case, it was very much a surprise when Southern Cal transfer Jarvis Jones made his first appearance before Bulldog beat writers.

Up until then, the linebacker had not been made available for interviews, so Wednesday marked the first time since he's actually been with the Bulldogs, that the former Carver standout has had to address his transfer from the Trojans last spring.

"It's been great. This group at Georgia really took me in, the players, the coaches; just everybody here at the University wrapped their arms around me and showed me the love that I needed," Jones said. "It's been fun. Just been buying into the system, learning, getting to know everybody and how things work."

Although he considered several schools after Southern Cal coach Lane Kiffin granted him his release, Jones said there was little doubt he wouldn't be a Bulldogs.

"I just looked at it when I was at SC and said if I went anywhere I was going to go home and play in front of the people that I know care for me," Jones said. "It's just nice to be closer to my home and closer to my family. It (Georgia) wasn't my decision out of high school, but in time, things change. I'm just glad to have the opportunity to be here, a second chance to come to Georgia."

By now, Jones' story should be a familiar one to Bulldog fans.

The Columbus native announced he would be coming to Athens after Georgia team doctors cleared him following the neck injury he suffered in 2009 while playing for the Trojans against Oregon. That injury forced him to miss the last five games.

Southern Cal doctors had ruled that Jones would not be able to play, despite subsequent second and third opinions which declared that he could resume his football career. Jones was subsequently granted a medical release by head coach Lane Kiffin.

"It was difficult for me because I thought I was healthy. When it first happened, I got cleared by the doctor. He said I was healthy but I needed to sit out the rest of the season so I wouldn't damage my nerve worse," said Jones, who suffered nerve damage to his C-5 vertebrae. "I thought I'd come back in the spring. But we had a new coaching change and all that stuff so when the new coaches came in, I got different answers, which was hard for me because I never really had went back to the doctor for it. They just told me I had a career-ending injury and that I shouldn't play."

That's when Jones started seeking different opinions.

"I went back to the doctor that cleared me, he gave me some information and stuff and I sent that to my mom and she sent it to doctors and they cleared me so I told myself I do have a chance," Jones said. "That's when I started looking around, talked to other doctors and got some different opinions. That's when I was granted my release."

Although Bulldog coaches and trainers have been careful not to let Jones do too much too soon, Jones said there's no doubt that he is as healthy as he can be.

"I'm 100 percent healthy now," Jones said. "I'm doing everything, going hard in practice, lifting weights, doing everything, just having fun."

Although he's seeing most of his practice time at outside linebacker, Bulldog defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said the 245-pound Jones can play on the inside equally well.

"We've got the flexibility to do both with him," Grantham said. "He can play outside or inside, then when you get him you can mix up some third-down stuff where maybe you've got three outside backers in the game or something like that. He gives you the flexibility to do a lot of things."

Although he's been in green for most of the preseason, Jones has been allowed to be a full-time contributor on the scout team for a couple of weeks now.

Jones laughed that it's about time.

"The first time I got to play in camp, I hit somebody. It was Day One. I just wanted to see if I was healthy, so many people telling me different things, but I knew I was healthy so the first chance I got in camp, I did, but I got in trouble and they wouldn't let me hit," Jones said. "After that they put me in a green jersey. I started playing scout team in the green jersey, and I'd hit every now and then just to see where I was. I still had to sneak one in every once in a while, but they saw me improving, putting in the work, so they took me out of the green jersey. Right now I'm full-go on scout team."

His role on scout team is quite simple.

"Basically, wherever the dominating linebacker is that week, that's where I'm at," Jones said.

Grantham can't wait to get him on the field for real.

"He was the one guy over there that was in a green jersey hammering guys. They tried to get him to tone it down but he wanted to test his body out," Grantham said. "He's a really good player, with very good physical tools. He can play multiple positions in a 3-4, he has a great work ethic and he's good kid, glad he's here. He's going to help us."

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