Horns happy with Jones’ solid season start
Alan Trubow – Austin American Statesman
Eddie Jones is supposed to be down for the count, finished.
Statistically speaking, his athletic career should have ended long ago.
It’s not because of age, though his teammates call him “Old Man” because of his, let’s call it … sophisticated, appearance.
It hasn’t been the wear on the Texas defensive end’s body. It’s been the tear.
Ten surgeries. Maybe 11. He’s lost count.
The fifth-year senior has had a surgery for every finger, which is about the only place he hasn’t been sliced into with a knife.
“It’s hard to keep track of them all,” Jones said. “I think it’s four knees, four shoulders a wrist and two ankle surgeries.”
Jones has stuck through it all, and despite an intimidating presence, he’s done it with a smile on and off the field. He’s worked through every injury and played in 39 games, recording 64 tackles and 8.5 sacks.
Off the field, he’s getting set to graduate in December and is lined up to earn a second degree in May.
That’s why every Longhorns coach was giddy about Jones’ three tackles behind the line of scrimmage in the season opener against Rice. Jones finished with five tackles, including a sack.
But what stuck out was the emotion that Jones played with. He was easily the most outwardly emotional player on the field for the Longhorns.
At one point, Jones’ desire got the best of him when he brought down a Rice quarterback with an obvious horse-collar, drawing a 15-yard penalty.
But the Longhorns liked what they saw from Jones, and they’re hoping he brings that personality with him every game this season.
“He brings passion every day. He brings emotion,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “And he’s one of those guys like Sam Acho, who we want to ignite our team.
“He’s had so many bad things happen to him and he’s still having fun.”
Jones takes pleasure in the little things. This week he’s been focusing on his recently discovered skill of kick returning. The Owls kicked to Jones three times, and he not only fielded every kick without issue but also managed nearly 14 yards per return.
Is he going to lead the team in return yards this year?
“I don’t know,” Jones said. “We’re going to have to go back to work tomorrow and see where we can go from there.”
He was joking about stealing balls from returner Marquise Goodwin.
Jones “needs to stand where he is, because yesterday he was wanting to back up and get one of Marquise’s balls so he could return it,” Brown said. “But we told him, ‘You’re a defensive end. You’re not a deep returner.’\u2009″
Jones knows his role.
Some, despite all the injuries, are still projecting him to play in the NFL if he manages to stay healthy this year.
That surprises his teammates, who joke with him that he’s too old for the NFL, much less college football.
Jones is just 21, but he started shaving his head in November.
And the result is a more mature look.
“They call me ‘Old Man’ or ‘The Father,’” Jones said. “People tell me all the time that I look like a grown man. They just always make jokes about me.”
Emmanuel Acho took the opportunity to throw one in earlier this week when talking about Jones’ naked scalp.
“There’s an old saying: ‘God made many beautiful heads . The others he covered with hair,’” Acho said. “So Edward should be proud of his bald head.”
While the rest of Jones’ body has broken down, his head is one thing that’s remained on straight.