In our eleventh installment in this series, we were able to catch up with former Alabama free safety Charles Jones. To get the complete interview, click here:
The University of Alabama in known for being the state’s most prided football program and a national powerhouse. While it receives notoriety and attention on a daily basis, many young players don’t have the initial desire to suit up for the Tide as one would think. Former Tide safety Charles Jones was one of those kids. Hailing from Waynesboro, Georgia, Jones was neither an Alabama fan nor (surprisingly) a Georgia fan growing up. The country boy from a small town had big dreams to wear the golden shining helmets of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. However, a college visit to Alabama changed that, and the rest is history.
For Jones, he was exactly the kind of player Alabama fans loved and appreciated. Listed at a generous 6-foot and 185 pounds, Jones used shear heart and passion to make noise as a starting safety for the Tide for two seasons in which he was a vital component to the Alabama secondary. However, that wasn’t always the case as Jones was dealing with falling further and further down the depth chart his first two seasons that he contemplated transferring. According to Jones, “I redshirted in 99, and in 2000, I didn’t really play. I had issues going on with considering to transfer actually…when Mike Dubose got fired, transition happened and with Coach Franchione coming in it was a blessing for me to have another opportunity to play.”
Things changed quickly when a new regime entered in 2001 and Coach Dennis Franchione and his staff saw something in Jones that allowed him to earn more playing time that season. From there, he continued to elevate his game and parlayed that into a starting role the following year.
In 2002, Jones helped lead a very talented defense and ended as one of the top tacklers with 85, as well as hauling in three interceptions. He followed that up in 2003 with 91 tackles and four interceptions. It’s easy to question how someone who does not possess ideal size could achieve at the highest level of college football. For Jones though, the answer was simple, “It doesn’t matter your size, it matters the size of your heart and the work you put in and your craft.” That craft allowed Jones to orchestrate a defense that ranked among the top teams in the nation in 2002. His combined total of over 175 tackles in two years is a testament to the work he put in film study as well as the weight room.
Now, Jones uses his past experiences to motivate a new group of athletes at East Central Community College in Decatur, Mississippi where he currently serves as the secondary coach. This is now his third season and has aspirations to continue to coach and elevate himself in his profession. However, he loves his job. He loves affecting and impacting the players he has and enjoys watching boys transition into manhood.
Jones, like many former players who suited up for Alabama continue to inspire those who dream to play college football. Many kids strive to compete at the highest level, yet lack the intestinal fortitude to battle through adversity. Jones overcame his struggles with his size, coaching situations, and other factors to be a top SEC player. Passion, dedication, heart — these are the traits of a fighter, and that’s what Jones was and is continuing to develop players into today.