Plano’s Jones picks NorthwesternPlano's Joseph Jones made a verbal commitment to Northwestern University. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 17, 2011 5:48PM
On Super Bowl Sundays, with a house filled with friends and family, Joseph Jones would make his way to the basement to play video games.
To him, football was a stupid game, pointless and boring.
Then mom got involved.
Shawn Dowd convinced her son to not only become interested, but to participate, in the only way mom’s know how.
“She made me,” Joseph laughed.
Jones didn’t put on shoulder pads until his eighth grade year, and now, as he ends his junior year at Plano, he has a scholarship to play football in the Big Ten Conference at Northwestern University.
“She has yet to stop jumping up and down and screaming and hugging me,” Jones said of mom’s reaction, who happens to be a Purdue University alumnae. “It’s hard to explain. I’m probably more excited than her, but she definitely expresses it 20 times more than I do.”
Jones gave Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald his verbal commitment late Monday evening following a formal offer from the coach earlier in the day, cutting short what could have been a whirlwind recruiting process in the summer. Heading into Monday’s school day, Jones had about a dozen camp stops on his calendar, and had received interest from Illinois, Toledo, Central Michigan, Valparaiso and Butler. Northwestern was his only firm offer, however.
Now, all he’ll be doing is attending the Wildcat’s camp and an Under Armour Combine in June.
“It’s amazing,” Jones said. “It definitely frees up my summer to focus on my team, personally, and to just hang out with friends and family and relax more. It’s a big relief.”
Northwestern has steadily recruited Jones since he attended a one-day camp last summer. Off that camp’s performance, the coaching staff invited him back to watch a practice. Since then, he’s been back to the Evanston campus to watch games and visit the facilities.
“Being there and going to the games and meeting the coaches, after awhile, they all started to know me and it felt like a family,” he said. “I’d walk in the door and people would know me and I didn’t even know their names. I felt part of the family. And coach ‘Fitz’ himself, is insanely awesome. The coaching staff in general is amazing. I just love the school.”
This despite the fact he missed six games last season with a leg injury suffered early in Week 3. But after proving himself healthy this spring with a strong track season, any worries the Northwestern staff had about his health, or his speed, were alleviated. A full-time two-way player at Plano at running back and safety, Jones will just play defensive back for the Wildcats.
“It’s exciting to have someone who is heading to the Big Ten, what can you say?” Plano coach Jim Green said. “It’s the big stage now and hopefully that will give him a lot of confidence heading into the season and he’ll take on a vocal leadership role because that’s what we’ll look for him to do now and I’m sure that’s what coach ‘Fitz’ will want out of him.”
The Reapers are hoping to rebound from a disappointing 2-7 season that included an 0-5 mark in the Interstate Eight Large.
“It adds to the adrenaline rush of things this summer,” Jones said. “I definitely hope this year goes better than last year. I expect people to work a lot harder than they did before because of the 2-7 thing and wanting to work toward a state ring.”