UM football player balances sports and academia


Tyler Bullard

Derrick Jones, a junior wide receiver from Eupora, is a tall, fast, and energetic wide out who signed to play football at Ole Miss on Feb. 6, 2013, with arguably the best recruiting class in school history. His ability to change positions multiple times shows he’s not your typical student athlete.

Jones has the made the transition from defense to offense twice, but now is solely a wide receiver for the Rebels. Football is not the only thing Jones enjoys about attending the University of Mississippi.

“I like the atmosphere here on campus and how it has a somewhat city feel to it,” said Jones.

Jones’ hometown located in west-central Mississippi is closer to in-state rival Mississippi State. Location played a big role in Jones’ decisions to come to Ole Miss instead of MSU.

“Mississippi State was just too close to home,” he said. “I just wanted to focus on football and becoming a better person and student when I made the decision to go to college at Ole Miss.”

Jones, a general studies major, is a big believer in education. He believes the pursuit of his degree will help him later in life. Jones hopes to be a football coach at the highest level possible if his NFL dream does not come true.

“My goal here at the University of Mississippi is to get my degree and hopefully brighten my chances of going to the NFL,” he said, “but if that does not happen, I would like to be involved with the game of football after my playing career is over.”

Mike Klaus, an academic adviser with the Ole Miss FedEx Academic Support Center, works with and advises student athletes, making sure they stay on top of their academics. Klaus spoke highly about Jones’ character and work ethic, and believes he is on his way to accomplishing his dreams.

“Derrick is an easy person to talk to,” Klaus said. “He is very friendly to me and others at the FedEx, and he has shown hard work in the classroom.

“Jones is known to be very accountable (with) his grades. He does not miss appointments with his tutors, and he is always known to meet his deadlines.”

The academic staff is not the only department that is excited Jones’ future. He has also impressed his coaches and peers.

Sean Patterson, associate director of recruiting operations, is in his first year at Ole Miss. He works with the offensive coaching staff, and said Jones has shown Patterson a lot in a short amount of time.

“He has made some good plays for us this year,” Patterson said, “and I am looking forward to him to keep working hard and contributing to our program in the future.

“He is a team-first guy, always has a big smile on his face, and brings energy and positivity to our team.”

Elliot Markuson, a red shirt sophomore linebacker, is a one of Jones’ teammates. He agrees that Jones is a very positive player and always works hard.

“Derrick is very competitive, always giving 100 percent,” said Markuson. “He always brings positive energy to the team, day in and day out.”

Markuson said Jones is the same off the field as he is on the field – with a laid back personality and positive outlook.

“Derrick is definitely a funny person,” said Markuson. “He always has people laughing. It is really easy to get along with him.

John Powell, director of character development for football, believes Jones has the potential to be a great leader.

“Derrick is very dedicated to this team,” he said, “and never showing negativity, is a big attribute to any team, in general, not just football.”

Powell said Jones has the ability to lift others when they are having a difficult time.

“He is always doing something to get people going or put people in a good mood,” he said. “Whether it is cracking a joke or just dancing at practice, there is never a dull moment with Derrick.”

Jones has also faced other challenges besides a few position changes. He balances being a student-athlete and a father. Jones’ son, Braylon Brantley, is 2.

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