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Nick Saban speaks on rise of DB Hootie Jones, says he’s done a ‘marvelous job’

Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.– Beneath the style of his hair, eccentric clothing and bright smile when cameras are turned on, Hootie Jones has carried the weight of playing for more than himself.  

Given the name “Laurence” by his mother, Jessica Carr, Jones’ tenure with the Crimson Tide comes with much concern of assuring to her that she will be okay.

In battling stage four Lymphoma (cancer) since her son’s freshman season, Carr has been adamant to Jones on having fun on the field and not to be worried. With thoughts of his mom and his son Davis on his mind, it is difficult for a man to not think of anything more than getting his family to a better situation. 

Under head coach Nick Saban, players are either immediately ready to start or they are forced to wait their turn. Hailing from Monroe, La., Jones was one of the nation’s top safety prospects that had to hold his peace behind Landon Collins, Geno Matias-Smith, Eddie Jackson and others.  

While he’s currently the third safety behind Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison, the former four-star recruit has found a way to create more of an impact.

Jones is quietly among the leaders in total tackles, chiming in with 31 for fifth on the roster. He recorded his first career interception in week three versus Colorado State at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and after struggling to find his place within all the talent, the senior has started to enjoy the fruits of his labor. 

“Hootie has done a marvelous job, especially this year in terms of how he’s played and the consistency that he’s played with,” Saban said Tuesday.  

His tackling numbers have improved each year since 2014, and noting how the Tide has played more dime than nickel and regular, Jones has seen more field time this season than any other. 

To put all statistics in perspective, Jones’ rise started last year. 

Regardless of having just 20 tackles, he was solid in coverage – five pass breakups – and forced a fumble on a kick return against Arkansas in a 49-30 victory at D.W.R. Razorback Stadium. 

“I think now he has a lot better confidence on what to do, how to do it, and why it is important to do it that way and he’s playing faster because of it,” Saban said of Jones. 

Prior to the season, Jones was one of few Tide players on the Senior Bowl watchlist. 

A productive finish to this campaign and a strong outing in the exhibition match, should provide NFL scouts with more of a reason to consider him. His mother has been his biggest motivation to this point, however, it’s Jones’ ability to have fun with the game again that has contributed to his rise as of late.

He has an opportunity to be undefeated all-time versus LSU on Saturday. 

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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