From the time a star athlete is discovered in middle school, the conversation of those around him becomes of how the young athlete will become a pro sports athlete one day. While there are many players who go to their childhood favorite school, most shop the situation that's best for them.
Most elite college football players have the dream of going to college for three seasons and then the NFL.
There's nothing wrong with players having this mindset. After all, they are playing a game for free that they could be making millions to play. A college education is nice, but I can tell you as a person with multiple degrees, I would trade my papers for millions of dollars any day of the week.
There are certainly times that players leave too early. They are promised to be drafted on day one and slip down to the later rounds and sometimes not drafted at all.
However, every once in a while, there are players who come along that love the college game so much that they are not willing to leave just yet. Last season, it was Andrew Luck. Although in his case, it was probably a mistake.
This season, it's Bulldog All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones. Jones was recently quoted as saying, “I love being here. I love the guys I play with. I love my coaches. I don’t think I’m ready to let that go yet.”
This is something that Jones has been declaring all season. While many players will make statements like this only to backtrack later. We saw it this season when Richardson was caught up in the moment and hinted at a return. However, it was clear to anyone rationally thinking that this was not going to happen.
To be honest, I wondered if the same thing would not happen to Jones. He has shot up most draft boards this season as he led the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss. However, he told reporters this week that he did not submit his paperwork to the NFL draft advisors because he's not going anywhere.
The paperwork that he's speaking of is something that almost all players with any draft potential fill out to see where they stand. Many of the people who fill the paperwork out have no intentions of leaving, they are just testing the waters.
Jones, on the other hand, had no intentions of even putting his toe in the water to check the temperature.
The decision by Jones to return is not without risk. In a perfect world, he has another great season and increases his draft stock even more. However, there are several factors that could hinder his stock.
So why would Jones risk it by coming back for his junior season?
The answer might be as simple as he stated. It might just be because he's not ready to leave the college atmosphere. However, I can’t help but wonder if it does not have to do with the injury he suffered at USC.
Out of high school, Jones was lured to the West Coast to play for the Trojans. His career got off to an amazing start, as he became a defensive starter as a true freshman in 2009.
His good fortunes did not continue though. During the eighth game of the season, he suffered a severe neck sprain and was sidelined the rest of the season. The Trojan staff refused to clear Jones although non-USC doctors told him that he should be cleared.
As a result, he asked for a release and transferred to Georgia. He redshirted the 2010 season and came back with a vengeance in 2011 and was one of the main reasons that the Bulldogs finished No. 3 in the nation in total defense.
In my opinion, the reason Jones is not ready to let go is because doctors tried to take it away from him. Sometimes, you don't know what you have until it's gone. Jones knows what he has, and he will not let it be taken away. When the time comes for him to lay it down and go on to his next challenge, he will be ready.
But not now; he worked too hard to get back to the college game.
This Bulldog defense might be the best in the nation in 2012 as they return nine starters if Bacarri Rambo decides to return. It seems only LSU will be able to fight them for that title.
Regardless of what happens, and regardless of what team you cheer for, every college football fan should cheer for Jones.
I understand completely that college football is a minor league for the pros. But it sure is nice to see stars who truly love the college game as much as we do as fans.
As the Bulldog nation often cites, Jones is a dang good DAWG!