Back in July, we learned that former University of Georgia and Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Jarvis Jones had joined the Bulldogs’ staff as a student assistant. Kirby Smart was asked on Saturday how did Jones’ role with the staff and the outside linebackers come about.
“To be honest with you, Dell (McGee) brought him about. I wasn’t aware that he was done with football,” said Kirby Smart. “And Dell said Jarvis was going to be back here in school. It was an awesome opportunity. I’ve been fortunate enough to have Kevin Butler, Chris Samuels and some really special players who have come back to work as undergrads.”
Jones played his high school football in the Columbus, GA area at Carver for then Head Coach Dell McGee who led the Tigers from 2005-2012 before entering the collegiate coaching ranks. Jones didn’t originally sign with UGA out of school. Instead, he headed out west as part of the University of Southern California’s 2009 recruiting class. As fate would have it, he was injured after playing in eight games his freshman season and was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. The Trojan medical staff would not clear him to play. Jones saught a second opinion and a second opportunity.
Jones was granted a release to transfer and with the help of McGee, came back home to Georgia where he was reevaluated and cleared to play. After sitting out the 2010 season per NCAA transfer rules, Jones went on to star on the Bulldogs defense as an All-American OLB in 2011 and 2012. He broke David Pollack’s single-season quarterback sack record his redshirt junior season in ’12 with 14.5. Jones would forgo his senior season and go on to be drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers 17th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, injuries shortened his NFL career.
It seems Dell McGee had a hand in bringing Jones back to UGA football twice now, and from what we’ve seen in practice during the media viewing periods, Jones has hit the ground running since joining Georgia’s staff. His interactions with the players have been fun to watch. Although he isn’t as vocal as Coach Dan Lanning, Jones really sets the tone in the outside linebackers group during practice, something Kirby expounded on when talking about the job Jarvis has done so far.
“Jarvis is here every day. A lot of times you get those guys that can’t be all in,” said Kirby Smart. “But Jarvis is all in. He is in there to learn. He helps set the tempo, set the standard in the outside linebacker room. He demands excellence.”
“He played the position; he knows what it takes to play it. We have talented players at that position group,” said Kirby Smart. “But a lot of those guys don’t have any experience. Here’s a guy that did it in the NFL and did it here at a high level. He’s from our state and played for one of our coaches. It’s a blessing.”
The lone veteran upperclassman of the group is junior Walter Grant who has played in 29 games, starting 8 of those. The next most experienced OLBs are redshirt sophomore Rober Beal, Jr., who has played in 11 games, and sophomore Adam Anderson, who has played in 14 games. Two redshirt freshmen, Azeez Ojulari and walk-on Matthew Brown, have limited experience. While junior college transfer Jermaine Johnson has seen action at Independence C.C., he has yet to see SEC play. Nor has freshman Nolan Smith.
The experience that Jarvis Jones will provide for this young but very athletic and talented outside linebacking corps is an invaluable resource for Georgia. And if Anderson, Beal, Brown, Grant, Johnson, Ojulari, and Smith can channel the tenacity which Jones played the game, opposing quarterbacks may get very little sleep the night before they play the University of Georgia.