An Insatiable Desire To Do Things Right

Senior linebacker Travis Jones was honored this week by the American Football Coaches Association, which named him to the 2009 Allstate Good Works Team. Jones is one of 11 Football Bowl Subdivsion players in the nation to be so honored, and the only player named from a non-BCS school.

When Travis Jones joined the San Jose State football team as a freshman in 2005, he saw himself as a quarterback; and why not? While playing for Atascadero (Calif.) High School, Jones had thrown for 1,245 yards and 10 touchdowns, and ran for 531 yards and eight more touchdowns his senior year. San Jose State Head Coach Dick Tomey didn't quite see Jones as a quarterback. "He thought he was a quarterback" said Tomey. "My first impression was he was not a quarterback. The first time he threw the ball he knew he wasn't a quarterback." Tomey's first impression of Jones centered more around his character as a person, rather than his athleticism. "My first impression of him" said Tomey, "was that he was somebody that had an insatiable desire to do things right, and to work hard, and was a solid individual." After redshirting in 2005, Jones played five different positions his freshman season and was named Special Teams Player Of The Year for the Spartans in both 2006 and 2007. He became a starting linebacker last season, promptly leading the team in tackles with 72.

The first impression that Dick Tomey had of Travis Jones turned out to be truer than even he realized at the time. On Tuesday, September 22nd, it was announced that Jones was one of 22 college players, out of over 50,000 nationally, to be named to the 2009 Allstate Good Works Team by the American Football Coaches Association, which honors players for their involvement and commitment to working with charitable organizations and service organizations while maintaining a good academic standing. Jones is the first ever San Jose State player to be so honored, and the only player on the list of eleven from the Football Bowl Subdivision (I-A) that hails from a non-BCS school.

Jones was honored for his involvement in a variety of charitable organizations and events including the Walk-A-Mile In Her Shoes program, which raises awareness in the battle against rape, sexual assault and gender violence; Toys For Tots; and Pat's Run, which benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation. He also serves as a student representative to the SJSU Alcohol, Drug Awareness Prevention Committee, and the Student-Athlete Advisory Council.

Jones credits his parents for molding him into the person he is. "Both my parents have raised me, and structured it so it was simple for me to come here and be a good person and win an award like this" said Jones. Jones came to San Jose with a direct connection to the city's sports history. His father Paul was a star running back at San Jose's Archbishop Mitty High School, rushing for 2,221 yards in 1974; and later playing at the University of California.

The award itself came as quite a surprise. "(SJSU Sports Information Director) Lawrence (Fan) sat me in his office and said ‘you remember that award we nominated you for? Well, you're one of the eleven'. And I was just kind of shocked" said Jones. "I didn't know I could win an award of this magnitude. I wasn't shopping for this award. I was just doing the right thing."

Jones says he was a little speechless at first. "I don't have exact words for it. I'm so honored" said Jones. "I looked at the list last night, and San Jose State is on there, I'm on there. I didn't know at first if I deserved it. But, I've done a lot of things in the past. I'm excited for myself and for the school."

Travis had to keep his winning the award a secret for several days. "I couldn't tell my mom or dad for a couple of days. I couldn't tell my girlfriend. I couldn't tell anybody" said Jones. When he was finally allowed to spill the news to his parents, his mom shed a few tears on the phone. His dad was equally jubilant. "He's so proud of me. He's proud of me all the time. He tells me everyday. He's happy for me, and everything I've done here."

Coach Dick Tomey is excited for Jones, and sees the award as a tremendous honor. "I think this is a wonderful honor for Travis and for our team, and for San Jose State, because this is a national award" said Tomey. "To be the only player from a school that's not a BCS school is an honor. And to be in a group of eleven of the caliber of players that those guys are, obviously including Tim Tebow and all the other great players from the other parts of the country is such a tremendous honor."

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Mike Morgan is a Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at mike@insidesparta.com

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