If you didn’t know who Byron Jones was a week ago, odds are you know who he is now.
The Connecticut cornerback prospect became an overnight sensation after a monster performance at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. He delivered a standing broad jump of 12 feet and 3 inches. That was a combine record, a world record and, yes, Jones’ personal best.
“That’s definitely my personal best,” Jones said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “That’s my personal best by eight inches.”
Jones also posted a vertical jump of 44.5 inches. That’s almost four feet.
What in the heck got into him last week?
“It’s just about performing on a big stage and trying to be (your best) in front of the scouts and the GMs,” Jones said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I wasn’t going to pass it up. I did have labrum surgery about 15 or 16 weeks ago, but I felt good going into it. I felt confident. I just wanted to compete.”
Jones, not surprisingly, ran track in high school. He also played basketball. In fact, he was the team’s starting center – at 6-1.
“Getting the job done,” said Jones, who would out-leap bigger players on the boards.
If you’re curious, Jones – a New Britain, Connecticut, native – was not recruited by Kevin Ollie.
“I was waiting on his call, but he never called,” Jones said, laughing. “We’re still cool, though.”
Even though Jones may have been the best athlete at the combine, he’s trying to keep his draft expectations in check – which isn’t exactly easy when you’re a 22-year-old phenom with more gifts than Santa Claus.
“I discussed that with my agent, and they pretty much told me regardless of what happens at the combine – if you do well, if you do bad – don’t worry about all the media attention,” Jones said. “Originally, before I (got) my injury, I was a mid-round guy. I’m hoping I can stay around there or maybe go up a little bit.”
Jones began his UConn career at safety but switched to corner due to injuries in the Huskies’ secondary. Looking back, that may have been a blessing in disguise.
I agree,” Jones said. “It’s about being versatile and providing the team with as many talents as you can. I’m happy I had the opportunity to play free safety and corner and stuff like that. I’m looking forward to applying those skills at the next level.”
Jones, whose combine interviews were “very simple” and focused on family and football, was asked if he’d be open to playing wide receiver in the NFL if a team asked him to.
“Yeah, I’m definitely a defensive guy,” he said. “I love playing on the defensive side – making tackles, making plays. But if I was given the opportunity to play at receiver, I’d do that, too. It’s the National Football League. This is a dream – at any position.”
Jones, it is worth noting, dropped just one ball at the combine.
“I got hands,” he said. “I got hands for sure.”
Hands and hops. It’s a deadly combination.