After a nine-year run in Jacksonville (technically eight because of missing the 2006 season due to injury) and earning a reputation as one of the NFL's top fullbacks, Greg Jones is trading Jaguar teal for Houston's horns. While he's staying in the AFC South, Jones is leaving behind the rebuilding Jags (2-14 in 2012) for a Texans team that made the playoffs the past few years and is considered a contender for the AFC title.
Jones is one of the toughest runners in Florida State history, racking up 2,535 yards and 30 touchdowns from 2000-03. He's sixth on FSU's all-time rushing list, just four yards behind No. 5 Sammie Smith.
He ran for 938 yards in 2002, and was well on his way to a 1,000-yard season before injuring his knee in a game against Wake Forest (there were four more regular-season games plus a bowl game left, so you can only imagine how many yards Jones might have accumulated). Prior to the injury he was averaging an amazing 5.8 yards per carry.
Garnet & Great caught up with Jones a few days before reporting to the Texans' camp.
How are things going in Houston so far?
JONES: "The transition to Houston is going good. They needed a fullback. I felt I could contribute a lot. ... Being in the same division, I see how the offense works, how they use the fullback. The past couple years they made it to the playoffs, and to me I always thought they were on the verge. And help them make that next step and go to the Super Bowl."
Did you want to re-sign with Jacksonville or were you looking elsewhere, too?
JONES: "Jacksonville wanted me to re-sign. It was an option but at the end of the day I was ready to move on. It was time for me to leave. The direction that they were going in, it was going to take them a long time to get where Houston is right now. It was time for me to leave and that’s how I made my decision."
Take us back to that 2002 season. You were running so well and then the injury happened.
JONES: "Going into that season, I was going to be a starter. The five O-linemen we had, all of them except one were seniors. I went in thinking if I get 1,000 yards then, maybe I’ll think about going to the league. I started off good, had some good games. And just all of a sudden, we were on a roll. Then I was like, 'Ok, Warrick Dunn had the single season rushing record (1,242 yards).' And I was like, 'Ok, if I get that, I’m definitely leaving school.' "
Then I tore my ACL. I was heartbroken. Didn’t want to talk to nobody. Had the surgery with Dr. (James) Andrews. Came back next year and rushed it a little bit, which I regret. My senior year, I wasn’t 100 percent but I helped the team out as much as a I could (618 yards, seven touchdowns)."
What was it like playing for coach Bobby Bowden?
JONES: "I can’t say anything bad about him. He always looked out for me. I had a great time and great experiences in Tallahassee. Without him that program wouldn’t be where it is right now. He made it, really."
Have you had a chance to watch some of the current FSU running backs like James Wilder and Devonta Freeman?
JONES: "I think those guys have a promising future. They have a good 1-2 punch. The guy I am anxious to see is (Mario) Pender. He’s supposed to be really good."