Jones takes long road to UW

first_imgDaven Jones has overcome adversity unlike most players in college football face.As he was a top wide receiver recruit from Glenville (Ohio) High School last year, Jones seemed destined to be a playmaker from the time he arrived on campus. Despite his stellar play, however, Jones was unable to play for Wisconsin in 2006 because he was ruled academically ineligible before his would-be freshman year.With his dream to play college football slipping away, Jones decided enough was enough, and succeeded in bringing his grades up at a local prep school in Ohio and took the SAT and ACT three times each.On top of that, he continued playing football, and after being declared eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse on the eve of UW’s fall camp, made the team and started playing special teams Sept. 29 against Michigan State.“It was hard, but I just kept fighting,” Jones said. “I listened to my parents, my coaches from high school and my friends. Everyone just kept pushing me to try harder.”Overcoming the academic issues has not been Jones’ only hurdle to clear. Early in fall camp, Jones suffered a serious knee injury and has worked fervently to earn a spot ever since.Senior wide receiver Paul Hubbard feels that Jones’ passionate drive is due in part to him overcoming academic hardships in the past.“His work ethic has definitely gone out of the roof, especially having to work so hard to get here on campus in the first place,” Hubbard said. “I feel like him having that drive from that situation alone is helping him out on the football field.”Along with his work ethic, Jones has been a recognized presence on the field as well. Most notably, Jones’ big hit on special teams at Penn State forced an apparent fumble, but he was called for a penalty. Replays appeared to show Jones’ hit was not, in fact, early, but very well-timed.Despite the call, Jones feels that hit was a good statement for earning more playing time. The next week against Northern Illinois, Jones caught his first pass.“I think that week [at Penn State] I showed the coaches that I was ready to play in college,” Jones said. “I felt relieved. I felt good, I felt like I could still play.”Beyond his natural ability on the field, the players and coaches have recognized Jones’ ability to learn quickly and to become a better player at every practice. Hubbard, who Jones regards as a role model, sees not only Jones’ motivation increased by his prior academic setbacks, but also his ability to learn from his mistakes.“He’s got short-term memory, and I mean that in a good way,” Hubbard said. “When he messes up he doesn’t let it bother him, and that’s it. He’s a fun guy to be around, and everything he did to get here makes him who he is.”Wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander agrees with Hubbard, remarking that Jones’ ability to recognize his mistakes and accomplishments makes him a better player and person on and off the field.“He’s been through a lot of adversity, through the inside it helps build his self-esteem in that he’s accomplished a goal in being here and another goal in being part of the team,” Alexander said. “Those are great accomplishments, and I think guys understand that he had some things to overcome before he got here and he overcame those obstacles.”From academic hardships to unexpected injury, Jones had overcome far more than most players. Regardless, he is ready to compete at a high level and move on from his past and prove he is still the same player who garnered national attention two years ago.“I want the same name that I had in high school,” Jones said. “I was the number one receiver my year coming out of high school, so that’s what I want to be here.”While he hasn’t seen a significant change in his playing time, as his career at Wisconsin continues, Jones, the players and coaches expect great play from him in the future. Alexander, after seeing his play thus far knows that Jones is capable of receiving significant playing time and being a serious force on offense.“Our expectations for him were the same as any other freshman, but I think he did a great job and showed us the player that he is, and I see a lot of potential in him,” Alexander said. “We wanted to see if he could make a quick transition with the guys, and he definitely has done that.”Above all, Jones’ motivation and hard work has paid off for him and for the Badgers. As his career at Wisconsin continues, Jones won’t forget the troubles he overcame in the past.“Getting here was a bigger accomplishment for me than playing here,” Jones said. “The tests were hard, but I kept fighting and I finally got here.”last_img

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