Jones jumping for joy

In a world of strong, silent, stoic football players who rarely show emotion, Jacoby Jones stands out.

He gets emotional even when the telephone rings.

Jones, the Texans' third-round pick from tiny Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., made no pretenses about that Saturday evening.

Moments after the Texans chose him with the 73rd pick overall in the draft, the speedy wide receiver was talking about his selection in bubbling terms.

Even the phone call from the Texans worked him up.

"I told everybody it was going to be either the Titans or the Texans," Jones said. "I wanted it to be the Texans since I visited there last week. When I saw the 832 (area code) come up on my caller ID tears just started running down out of my eyes.

"I said, 'Whenever you want me, I'm there.'"

That was one reason the Texans liked the player despite the fact he played at a Division II school few people have heard of even in the NFL. Only one other player – Ernest Bonwell, a defensive tackle who was taken by the Dallas Cowboys in 1971 – has ever been drafted in the league out of Lane College.

And Lane College's stadium (Rothrock Stadium) is a far cry from Reliant Stadium's 71,054 seat capacity. How many fans does Lane Stadium hold?

"A handful," Jones laughed.

It's actually 3,500, but the Texans' brass think that won't hold Jones back. The 6-2, 210-pounder has shown considerable versatility in his college career, starting out on a track scholarship at Southeastern Louisiana before transferring to Lane in 2003.

At Lane, he played basketball and ran track in addition to football his first two seasons, starting on the basketball team in 2005 and averaging 8.3 points and 5.0 rebounds.

In track, he ran personal bests of 10.28 in the 100 meters and 21.3 in the 200 meters.

Last season, he decided to concentrate strictly on football and won Division II All-American honors as an all-purpose back. That was because he caught 68 passes for 822 yards and six touchdowns, carried the ball nine times for 89 yards and another touchdown, led the conference in kickoff returns with 38 for 848 yards and two more TDs and returned 24 punts for 330 yards and another score.

He ranked fifth in the nation with a school-record 2,089 all-purpose yards.

So the Texans expect him to do many things and Jones, of course, is excited about that.

"I'll do whatever they want me to," he said. "As soon as possible, I want to get down there and learn the system. I'm going to try to make an impact real soon."

Jones first caught the Texans' eye when he stood out in the DELL East-West Shrine game workouts that were held in Houston in January. Coach Gary Kubiak says after Jones visited the team barely a week ago that he knew his small-college background wouldn't be a problem.

"You just watch him," Kubiak says, "and you know the kid belongs. I would expect him to help us next year and help us quite a bit."

Jones agrees, naturally, with exuberance.


"There isn't any difference," Jones said when asked about making the jump from a Division II school to the NFL. "An athlete's an athlete. All grass is green and all footballs are brown, unless you're playing at Boise State."

The Texans were almost as excited about their limited first day of the draft. Because they traded their second-round pick to Atlanta for quarterback Matt Schaub in March, they had only two picks for the day, counting first-round choice Amobi Okoye from Louisville.

"Young players on the rise might be the theme for the day for us," general manager Rick Smith said. "We feel like both players are young with a lot of potential and we're very happy about that."

Kubiak agreed.

"To come up with a player in the first round that we never thought we'd have a chance at and then to get a young player like Jones in the third round, we're feeling so good," Kubiak said. "It was a long time between picks, but we feel like we have two good ones."

Smith thinks just those two picks alone improved the Texans.

"I think we got significantly better today," Smith said. "We were fortunate to add a player like Amobi and then this (third-round) pick, to get a young athlete who's a natural receiver as well as filling a position of need, it's been such a productive day."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

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