HIS 'FATHER'S SON'
Jones follows in his father’s footsteps, but looks to start own path
New UConn head football coach Paul Pasqualoni, right, talks with former NFL player Tebucky Jones, left, before news conference in Storrs on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. AP
With under 11 minutes remaining in Super Bowl XXXVI, and the heavily favored St. Louis Rams trailing the New England Patriots 17-3, quarterback Kurt Warner scrambled on fourth-and-goal. New England's Roman Phifer was there to meet him. Warner fumbled after Phifer hit him, and safety Tebucky Jones picked up the football off the astro turf. Jones took it the rest of the way for a touchdown. Or so it seemed.
Willie McGinest was called for holding and the game-sealing touchdown was negated. Warner scored two plays later and the Patriots had to wait until Adam Vinatieri kicked a game-winning field goal at the gun to give New England its first Super Bowl. Jones's legacy was still cemented at the Louisiana Superdome that February night in 2002. He was a Super Bowl champion, reaching the pinnacle of the sport. And although the New Britain product would go on to play with the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins before calling it a career in 2006, Jones will always be known as defensive stalwart on a championship team.
Jones's son, Tebucky Jones Jr., was at his grandmother's house watching his father win the Super Bowl while he was a third grader in 2002. And although he did not attend the game in New Orleans, he said it was a "very exciting game." In 2011, Jones, a redshirt freshman wide receiver at UConn, is looking to create his own identity.
"There's always gonna be pressure of having a father that played pro sports," Jones said. "But me and him are two different people and I'm trying to start my own legacy and reputation as a great football player."
Indeed, Jones followed in his father's footsteps and starred at New Britain High School. He caught eight touchdowns in both his junior and senior seasons, earning All-State accolades from the Hartford Courant, New Britain Herald, and the Connecticut High School Coaches Association. He also played basketball and ran track for the Golden Hurricanes. Although Jones garnered attention from colleges on the hardwood, recruiters knew he wanted to play football in college. After considering Boston College, Maryland and Iowa, Jones decided to stay in-state and play football for the Huskies.
Jones arrived in Storrs last season and redshirted. Although he never played a game for the Big East champion and Fiesta Bowl participant, Jones earned the Offensive Scout Player of the Week prior to the contest against Texas Southern and was named the Special Teams Scout Player of the Week during the week of practice before the West Virginia matchup. UConn won both those games. Jones is working hard in training camp this summer to crack the rotation and make his first impact on the field in the fall.
"Preparation this summer has been very demanding with the training camp schedule," Jones said. "It was very honoring to be part of the Big East championship team and to help give a good look to the starting defense when I was on the scout team, but this year I have demanded more from myself since I will be playing on the field and not just be watching from the sidelines."
And with multiple wide receivers transferring over the offseason, including Dwayne Difton and Leon Kinnard, both of whom saw playing time last season, Jones has an opportunity to see plenty of action.
"With or without the transfers I always have high confidence in myself," Jones said. "And I know with my hard work over the summer, it is going to transfer over to the field and I believe I can make a great impact this year in the team's success."
It didn't hurt that UConn hired Paul Pasqualoni this past spring. Pasqualoni coached at Syracuse from 1991-2004, and one of his notable recruits was defensive standout Tebucky Jones, Sr. Jones went on to become a first round pick of the Patriots in 1998 and Pasqualoni won four Big East titles at the helm of the Orangemen. Now Pasqualoni has a chance for the same success with Jones Jr.
"It is very exciting playing for Coach P. because he has done it all and is a very well respected coach," Jones said. "He has won conference championships and has sent numerous players to the NFL so he has a very impressive resume and I believe he will lift our program to the next level."
Jones seemingly has it all: the competitive fire, athletic genes, and most of all, the football pedigree. He is definitely his ‘father's son.'
As for what happens in Jones's future, well, that's up to him. The eldest Jones cemented his legacy almost a decade ago. As for Tebucky Jr., the molding of his legacy starts now.
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