Oct. 13, 2011
The Defining of Deddrick Jones
By: Kyle Neaves, Asst. Director of Media Relations
Halfway through his junior season, Southern Miss defensive lineman Deddrick Jones was among three Golden Eagles injured in a shooting at an establishment in Hattiesburg following the team's defeat of then-No. 25 UCF in Orlando. Jones' season was over almost as soon as the first bullet was fired, but that incident is not the focus of this story. Nor will it be the definition of a young man from Bastrop, La., who preserved through much larger obstacles to remain on the football field.
After three years of successfully pursuing the quarterback from his defensive end position, senior defensive line Deddrick Jones was asked to move to the interior of the Golden Eagle line. With the help of his family, especially his young brother, Jones has shown that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks.
Jones, the son of Bowman Moore and Belinda Jones, attended Delta High School and was recruited by a handful of regional Louisiana schools but it wasn't until a storm named Katrina changed his life as it did for so many others.
"My life was completely changed...," recalled Jones. "But it wasn't all that bad for me. All of the high schools in the area merged to a single school which gave me a better opportunity to gain exposure. I went from a lower level school to a 4A school. I got more teams to look at me there."
That 4A school, Bastrop, completed a 15-0 season during Jones' senior season, capturing a 4A Louisiana State Championship along the way and catapulting Jones on to continue his winning ways elsewhere.
Winning as he did in high school, it should be no surprise that Jones decided to come to Southern Miss to continue that trend.
"One of the main reasons I came here was because of the winning tradition and how good Southern Miss was," recounted Jones. "That's why I decided to come up here. It's special to go out there and play at "The Rock." There were a lot of people that came before us that made it a tough place to play so we have to go out and uphold that tradition."
But winning - just as seemingly everything else in his life - didn't come easy. When the Bastrop area schools formed to become one, it was inevitable that rivals would become teammates and foe had to become friend.
"It was crazy. When we go out at practice, we would look at each other like, `We were just playing against each other. Now we're a team,'" Jones said, still in apparent disbelief at times. "We finally had to come together as a team and share the same goal of winning and working as a team."
When Jones stepped onto campus as a freshman in 2007, the Southern Miss defensive line was as shored up as they had been in a very long time with players like Robert Henderson, Martavius Prince, Matthew Chatelain, Anthony Gray and Roshaad Byrd holding spots in key positions. The result was obvious: redshirt.
It was during this year that Jones found his role model on the field in Henderson. He admired the passion and intensity that the former sixth round pick of the New York Giants played with, even at his size.
Size was never in short supply in the Jones' household either. Jones, the fourth-youngest among his four brothers and six sisters, has a younger brother playing football at the University of Arkansas, conveniently enough, along the defensive line.
D.D. Jones checks in at 6-foot-5 and a cupcake tray over 300 lbs., and is a defensive tackle for the Razorbacks, a position that, up until 2011, his older brother had never played. But when coaches asked Deddrick to move inside to help with depth, younger brother taught older brother the tricks of the trade.
"I talked to him when I went home after I found out I was going to be playing inside," the elder Jones said. "He would tell me different things like technique and situations, and even though he's younger, he's played the position longer than I have so I had to listen to him."
So far, chalk Jones up as a fan.
"At practice, I always tried to play a little at the tackle position and I did well at it, as far as pass rushing goes," added Jones. "Anything I can do to help the team, if the coaches put me in the position to, I'll do it to help. I actually like playing inside more. It gives you more opportunity to make a play or a move."
As his time in the Black and Gold continues to wind down, Jones is hopeful for the future but reminded of his past, still in amazement at how quickly life can move on by. "Senior Night" in M.M. Roberts Stadium, in particular, will be as poignant a reminder of the pace of it all.
"It's going to be very emotional for me. I know that (my family) has been going to all my games to support me but that game will mean a lot," Jones said. "It seems like it's flown by. I remember just sitting in the team meeting room by redshirt year and listening to all the seniors get up and talk and tell us how quick it's flown by. And I'm saying to myself, `It ain't going to go by that quick,' but it seems like in just a blink of an eye."
His family, Jones is quick to point out, is as instrumental a part of his success of the field as the fans of the Black and Gold are on it. For their support, he is forever grateful.
"I can't thank my parents, grandmother, Irene Jones, and grandfather, Gean Allen, enough for everything they have done for me," Jones said. "I feel like, other than my parents, they were always there teaching me, teaching me right from wrong and saying that no matter what happens to keep fighting and push through."
Perseverance. Now there's something you can use to define Deddrick Jones.