MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - In 2008, Joey Jones returned to his hometown, Mobile, Alabama after building a football program at Birmingham-Southern. He was given the same task at South Alabama – to begin a football team for the Jags.
“We started the program five years ago and here we are in year five, we’re obviously a much better football team now, we’ve had to go through a lot of growing pains, and still go through growing pains.”
In his inaugural season at South Alabama – Jones lead the Jags to a perfect 7-0 record. But the competition is getting stronger.
“The thing that’s the hardest about putting this together is we’re stepping up every year, we started off with junior colleges, next year we’re playing D2, and 1-AA, next year it’s 1-AA and D1, and now it’s just all D-1. So we’re stepping up every year and our kids have stepped up to the challenge,” said Jones.
Jones knows what division one talent is like – playing for the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 80’s.
FOX10: “What was the recruiting process like for you?”
JONES: “Um not really great, I mean I was one of the last guys I think they signed and I had a few offers Alabama and Fla State mainly, Ole Miss came in late, I wasn’t the biggest guy in the world so they really weren’t looking for a guy my size to play WR – Alabama gave me a shot, and I think it’s one of those deals where coach Bryant when he signed me I think second guessed himself when he saw me walk in the door because I think he thought I was a manager, or whatever, but anyway.”
FOX10: "What’s it like to look back and know that you played for one of the most historic coaches in college football?”
JONES: “Well, when I was getting recruited, it came down to Alabama and Fla State, and my mother talked to me about going to UA and playing for Byant, and I really didn’t understand that at the time because I knew we was obviously the best coach or whatever – but now having played for him, just to say I’ve played for coach Bryant, has a lot of credibility because he was such a great person and great coach. It was great for me to go there and I learned a lot from him about playing and coaching.”
After making the rounds, coaching all throughout the State of Alabama – Coach Jones’ love for Mobile, remains strong.
“It’s a great sports town and I really enjoyed growing up here, played my little league ball at Maitre park, and learned a lot about the game, learned about mental toughness and pulling together with a team, learned a lot of intangibles that I still use today. I went to Murphy HS, and played there, great tradition there --- Mobile is a special town, maybe it’s because I’m from here that I feel that way, biased I guess, but it’s a special town, it’s a small town, yet a big town, and they love their sports here, they love football … and it’s very important to them I think the Jags are high up on their list – obviously you have Alabama and Auburn people – who love those two schools and I understand that, and I love Alabama, I understand how that works, but there’s starting to be a lot of Jag fans as well,” said Jones.
Ten University of South Alabama football players were honored with the release of the 2013 all- Sun Belt Conference teams on Wednesday, December 11, and Jaguar head coach Joey Jones was selected the league's Coach of the Year.
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