The Star Who Never Shined

The Star Who Never Shined
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Jarvis Jones has gained notoriety throughout Pennsylvania, particularly Pittsburgh, as the biggest bust in the last decade. Unfortunately, I mirror that sentiment, and his footballing demise saddens me, and I’m sure many others. 

The Beast That Almost Never Was

Although Jones attended USC for his freshman year, he was largely ineffective there. Through eight games he had accumulated 13 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss, mainly on special teams. His season was turned upside down against the Oregon Ducks however, when he suffered a neck injury. This was later revealed to be spinal stenosis. The injury kept him sidelined for the remainder of the season, and more importantly was the reason that he was declared unfit to continue plying his trade at the school. 

Georgia Greatness

Despite Jones’ career being in turmoil, he decided to take a chance and request his release. He was granted that release, and subsequently was acquired by the Georgia Bulldogs. What followed this move was simply raw greatness, giving birth to a different animal in the SEC. 

In his senior year, Jones boasted 24.5 TFL which lead the NCAA. As well as that, he finished first in sacks with 15 that season also.

In his two years of attendance as a bulldog, Jones racked up 155 combined tackles, 44 TFL, 28 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception. He concluded his collegiate career with 2x Consensus All-American honors (2011, 2012) and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award (2012). Furthermore, he was awarded the Jack Lambert Trophy, annually given to the best linebacker in the league.

Above all the statistics, Jones was an immovable force at the line of scrimmage. He was a terror in its most beautiful form. Just a pure machine. More than anything else, his performance against the Florida Gators was easily his best ever showing. That game, on the brink of November, he was unstoppable. Not only did he open proceedings by forcing a fumble from the Gators, but he then recovered one himself two plays later. Things only got better, as Jones concluded the night with 13 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. Until this very day, it remains one of the most domineering performances in college football history.   

Jones Joins The Steelers

With the 17th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Jarvis Jones was officially a Pittsburgh Steeler. 

The move did not ensure he had a starting spot on the team however. He began the season competing for that honour, rotating mainly with Jason Worilds. To conclude the season, Jones started 8 of 14 games. In those he accumulated 4 pass deflections, 1 sack, 41 combined tackles and 4 TFL. It was certainly not a bad year because did demonstrate plenty of promise. The hope entering 2014 was that he would perform better against the run. 

The exit of LeMarr Woodley vacated the starting right OLB position. It gave birth to Jones’ first real opportunity to show his worth. However, in week 3 against the Panthers, injuries once again plagued Jones. On the play that created his first ever fumble, he suffered a wrist injury. He didn’t return until week 14 after undergoing surgery. Despite his inevitable return, many site the injury as a defining factor in his ultimate downfall. Regardless, he finished the season with 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 18 tackles, 2 TFL and 3 QB hits through 7 games. 

In 2015, Jones returned to the lineup determined. He notched his first-ever interception that season. However in spite of that, it was a fairly poor year statistically, especially for a guy who was now a perennial starter. His season concluded with 1 INT, 2 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 sacks and 27 tackles.

In the last year of his contract, he simply had to produce solid numbers. He featured in 14 games, but started in just 9 of those. He did record his second interception in as many seasons in 2016 against the Chiefs however. As well as that, he compiled 2 fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack, 43 tackles, 4 TFL and 6 QB hits.

Ultimately, his best efforts were simply not enough. As a result, on May 2, 2016, the former first-round pick’s fifth-year option was declined by the Steelers. 

The Twilight Years

An attempt was made to resurrect his career in Arizona, but by September 2, 2017 he received an injury settlement and was subsequently officially released. 

Unfortunately, he will be remembered as one of the biggest draft “busts” in the past decade. It appeared that a plethora of injuries were too much to overcome, which is becoming an all too frequent occurrence in the NFL. 

Above all else, I for one look back on his time at Georgia fondly. At the end of the day, Jarvis Jones was simply unstoppable when he found his groove and that’s how I’d like for him to be remembered. 

Image Credits – 

Denny Medley (USA TODAY sports) 

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