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ASU Football: The Redemption of Jack Jones

How Jack Jones was able to turn it all around.

Jack Jones came into college football with all the hype in the world, and deservedly so. At Long Beach Poly High in California, Jones was regarded as a 5-star recruit and considered the second-best cornerback in his class.

It didn't take long for Jones to make his impact felt at USC.

As a true freshman, Jones saw time as a backup cornerback before becoming a full-time starter in his sophomore year in 2017. He led the Trojans with four interceptions to go along with 40 tackles and eight pass breakups that season.

Jones stock was trending in the up direction. A California kid making a splash at USC couldn't have been written any better.

That was true until Jones' journey hit a bump in the road due to a struggle in academics.

He missed spring practice in 2018 to focus more on school. He was ultimately ruled academically ineligible for the 2018 season. USC reportedly dismissed Jones off their team because of it.

The downward spiral didn't stop there for Jones. Santa Paula police arrested Jones and two others for allegedly breaking into a Panda Express in June of 2018.

Jones pled guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor charge of commercial burglary in October of 2018. The felony charges were dropped as part of the plea. Instead, Jones served 45 days of house arrest with three years of informal probation.

It was rock bottom for Jones.

A former Division I star with NFL aspirations was not even on a football roster anymore. But Jones didn't want his story to stop there.

In the fall of 2018, he attended Moorpark College to get his academics back on the right track. The junior college had a football team, but Jones elected not to join as he remained fully invested in his studies.

Over the next two semesters, Jones completed 30 credit hours to achieve the NCAA-mandated academic progress so he can play in 2019. Despite not playing at all, he was still regarded as the 15th best JUCO prospect nationally.

Jones was ready to return to college football but were they ready for him.

With his controversial history and legal issues, Jones needed someone to take a chance on him. And who was better suited to give that opportunity than Antonio Pierce - a man who coached him in high school, and has known him since the age of 13.

As the associate head coach, Pierce didn't have the power to make the final decision, so he wrote an email to coach Herm Edwards, vice president of athletics Ray Anderson and school president Michael Crow. In it, he outlined how much Jones could benefit from structure and support put in place at ASU. Not to mention, he was a darn good football player that could help the team immediately.

ASU decided to take a leap of faith and give Jones his second chance.

Even before Coach Pierce told Jones not to 'blow it,' Jones already realized this second chance was probably his last. He already knew what bottom felt like, and didn't want to return.

After not playing in any organized games or practices since December of 2017, Jones needed time to work back into shape. His body wasn't quite ready for the physical demand of a football season after the long hiatus.

His health and weight were both issues coming into the start of the season. He dealt with mild ankle problems in practice, and only weighed in at 159 pounds, at 5-foot-11.

For reference, I'm 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds on a good day.

As the season went on, Jones became more comfortable in both the system and himself. During ASU's three-game winning streak to end the year, Jones led the team with three interceptions.

On the season, Jones played all 13 games (1 start), while leading the team in pass breakups (13) and interceptions (3).

When asked how he played, he told the Athletic, "It was the most average I have ever played in my life."

If average means - still leading the team in multiple defensive categories, then ASU fans will be happy to see what above-average looks like.

For the second-highest-rated recruit to ever put on a Sun Devil uniform according to 247Sports, Jones hasn't hit his ceiling yet.

He still has dreams of playing in the NFL, but with the birth of his daughter in 2019, Jones is seeing the bigger picture now.

"My daughter keeps me going. This is for her. This is for my family," Jones said.

Jones has lived up to those words, not just on the field but also in the classroom.

He has brought his focus and determination from football and applied it to all aspects of his life. He finished this past semester on the Dean's List. An honor for students finishing with a GPA of at least 3.5.

Right now, Jones has exceeded all expectations after hitting his lowest point.

If he can continue what he's been doing, he will have a monster year for ASU. We saw what he could do after a two year break, so imagine what he could do after the second year in the same system and being in shape coming into the season.

I don't believe this redemption arc is over just yet. We could be hearing Jones' name called by Roger Goodell this June with another stellar year.