September 23, 2021
"Changing Lives, Improving Communities"

Diamond in the Rough: Jai Jones

Jai Jones is a 5’10, 230 senior linebacker for South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas, TX. He also has a twin brother, Jalen Jones who also plays for the Golden Bears. Jai is a disruptive and explosive player with outstanding play strength and ready-made power. He’s very versatile and has the ability to play outside or inside. Jones started as a sophomore in 2018 and contributed to SOC’s 11-1 record which led to the Bears reaching the second round of the Texas Class 5A Division II playoffs. He credits a lot of his inspiration to his father, JJ Jones, former Arkansas linebacker who briefly played for the New Orleans Saints. Jones has offers from Baylor, Georgia, Boise State, San Diego State, Bowling Green, Utah State, Nevada, Memphis, Colorado, Cincinnati, Alabama A&M, LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Louisiana Tech, and Kansas. Nonetheless, Jai committed to Boise State in April of this year.

When did you start playing football? What made you want to play this sport?

I started playing football when I was like four or five. I think like flag. Just growing up around the sport. My dad played football at Arkansas and a little bit for the Saints. We just had football in our family, so that kind of motivated me to play.

What is your favorite thing about your position?

I would probably say hitting people! I like that contact; I like hitting people mainly. Trying to take somebody’s manhood, it’s all about making the next person tap out. I like that about my position.

What is your favorite thing about playing football in Texas? In Dallas?

Texas football is big. It’s probably just as big as college football and the NFL, so it gets a lot of attention and it’s very competitive. We get a lot of attention. Dallas is great for recruiting and we have of great teams in Dallas, so it brings a lot of recruiting with that.

Do you play other sports? If so, how would you say that helps you on the football field?

I used to play baseball, but I stopped that. No, not right now.

What are some goals you have for this season?

To win state. To make First Team All-American All District. That, but the main thing is to have fun and build good relationships. Make this year an eventful moment since it’s my last year.

What is one football moment you can never forget?

I have a post on my Twitter of our Duncanville game. Everybody was playing fast and physical and I just like how they were physical because we played a 6A school that just almost won a state championship. They’re all 6’3, 6’4, and above and we’re a 5A small school with smaller kids and we went toe-to-toe with them. It’s just that sense of pride and just playing with guys of high caliber.

What has football taught you about yourself or life?

Football has taught me to work harder, push through things, never quit, or give up. Football has taught me how to have fun. With life, you only get one chance; you only get one chance at life. Play every play like it’s the last one because you never know, so just leave everything out on the field. For the most part, it’s taught me how to be a man. Having a lot of great coaches around, a lot of great mentors and people to look up to too. 

Jai Jones, LB for the South Oak Cliff Golden Bears, Class of ’21

Who inspired you as a young athlete?

My father did. I was able to watch my father work and play in the NFL a little bit. Watch him train and things like that. He taught us the game and he has film of it, so we watch him and try to mimic how he plays. He always taught us if you do one thing, always be physical, no matter if you mess up or misread. Always play fast and play physical and that’s how he taught us. That’s who I look up to.

What challenges did you come across in getting to where you are today?

I would probably say the biggest thing was losing my grandma. She’s was like my best friend and she passed away around my freshman year in high school. She’s one of the reasons I play football today. I would say I’m a pretty open person, but I was very open with her and when she passed away it was tough on me, but it helped me let it all out on the field.

What are some expectations you have for yourself and for the team as a whole?

For myself, be a leader to lead this team. Play fast, play physical. For the rest of the team, just be prepared, being ready on Friday nights. Play fast and play physical at all times.

Do you have any hobbies outside of sports?

I would say I like to write a lot, but for the most part, if I’m not doing school, I’m working out, watching football, or watching film. Just trying to learn and always get prepared for the season.

I saw that you committed to Boise State in April. What made them different than other college programs that offered you?

When it comes to recruiting and talking to a lot of coaches, Boise State stayed consistent. They always called and Facetime’s out the blue just to check up on me. They were always keeping in touch with my parents and stuff like that and we all came to a decision.

Have you thought about what you would like to study in college?

I want to do something in business management or sports management.

What is something you would like to improve on?

I would like to improve on my speed, staying low, not getting tired on the field, playing fast, and playing with a motor, that’s it.