Roy Exum: The Beauty Of Barrett Jones

Monday, December 26, 2011 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Barrett Jones has made quite a name for himself as an All-American tackle at Alabama. He won the Jacobs Award as the top blocker in the Southeastern Conference and he was awarded the prestigious Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in all of football.

But the beauty of Barrett Jones didn’t get its holiday shine until yesterday – on Christmas - when the Memphis Commercial Appeal named him as the city’s Sportsman of the Year. That’s right, of all the male and female athletes in the sprawling West Tennessee city, ranging from pro basketball’s Memphis Grizzlies to some of the best amateur golfers and tennis players in the state, Barrett was an easy choice and football, oddly enough, didn’t have that much to do with it.

His own explanation is adequate. "I don't want to be a football player who does other things - I want to be Barrett who happens to play football," said the 21-year-old, "That's part of who I am. I love giving back. It really brings me great joy to do that."

Now let me tell you about the “real” Barrett Jones. He’s just a junior but he has already graduated from Alabama, earning a degree in accounting this August with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. He’s now in grad school as the top scholar-athlete for football in all the SEC, which is why he was just awarded the Wuerffel Trophy – the award given in the BCS to the top player in the country who combines community service, academics and athletics in the best way.

He’s been on two mission trips to Haiti. When deadly tornadoes hit Tuscaloosa this spring, he was the first Alabama player who rushed to help and the last to leave. He just allowed pie-plates filled with whipped cream to be hurled in his face to help a fundraiser for world hunger and that’s a feat in itself – Barrett is 6-foot-5 and weighs 315 pounds.

"I just want to have fun,” the humble and modest giant told sportswriter Ron Higgins. “I love college. I love being on a team and I love having friends outside of football. You have to find the fun in all this. There's so much hard work, but if you miss the fun, you're going to miss out on something special. Alabama has been a great experience. It has been everything I thought it would be and more."

How’s that at a time when some other college players are being suspended for smoking synthetic marijuana, trading tickets for tattoos, fighting in bars and – because of a court order – rendering far different community services. Barrett Jones is the best “feel good” story at Christmas you ever heard but he is also one of the most loved players on the Alabama team that will play LSU for the national championship in just two weeks.

"I think Barrett's our Most Valuable Player," said Alabama All-American running back Trent Richardson while Chance Warmack, a fellow lineman, laughed and called Barrett "just an all-around good dude."

What about head coach Nick Saban, who has watched the stellar tackle start in 39 games and win 35 of them? “Barrett Jones is probably as fine a person as I have ever had the opportunity to coach in terms of character, attitude, intelligence, willingness to give of himself to help other people.”

Barrett, whose father played basketball for the Crimson Tide and whose brother is now a yearling tight end at Alabama, gives all the credit to his mother and father. "Mom taught me to be well-rounded, to invest in school work and invest in the community, but it was my dad who gave me my athletic genes and my work ethic," he explained. "When I very young, whether it was working in the yard, or practicing a sport, he taught me how to dedicate myself to become great at it."

His teammates call him “Knowledge”
because he knows so much about so many things and they think it is hysterical that he started taking violin lessons at age three and just two years later was serenading seniors at a retirement home. “He’s a little bit of a nerd,” joked the runner Richardson, but Jones’ mother rushed to her son’s defense by saying, "Barrett was just a smart little kid, and I knew he had all this energy to learn," Leslie Jones said. "He wanted to know everything at a really early age."

Barrett took a rash of kidding when his teammates found out the bruising tackler was a violinist. “I'm glad I learned how to play violin. When you do something and want to become great at it, you practice it a lot. The violin really taught me a work ethic at a young age."

So now you can see why he doesn’t just want to be a football player who does other things. No, he wants to be Barrett who just happens to play football. “It is so important to remember who you truly are,” said the newest Memphis Sportsman of the Year.

And that is the beauty of Barrett Jones, the man, not just the All-American.

royexum@aol.com


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw - Respected By Bradley County Juvenile Department

Juvenile Judge Rob Philyaw has earned the respect of Bradley County Juvenile Court Staff by reaching out and sharing ideas and resources with the purpose of becoming more efficient in dealing with juvenile offenses and the rising drug problems facing our youth in southeast Tennessee. Judge Philyaw recognized Bradley County Juvenile Court as having one of the ... (click for more)

Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park. In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars." ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Choo Choo Adding Clubs, Restaurants In $8 Million Renovation

The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is adding clubs and restaurants in a $7 million renovation, it was announced in front of the South Market Street landmark on Monday morning. The Comedy Catch will be moving from its longtime home in Brainerd and there will be a new 500-person music venue that will be in addition to Track 29. The new venue, managed by Track 29, will feature a ... (click for more)

Prep Football Practice Starts Today

Coaches barking instructions, players blocking and tackling, quarterbacks and receivers working on timing routes and error-free handoffs to fleet-footed running backs.   In the greater Chattanooga area and throughout the state it can mean just one thing. It’s time for Prep Football 2014.   Today is the first official day ... (click for more)

NPSL National Championship To Be Played At Red Bulls Arena

The NPSL announced on Monday that the national championship match between Chattanooga FC and the Red Bulls U23 will be played on Saturday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.  The match will be played following an MLS match between New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution.   Local fans took to social media to appeal for the game to be played in Chattanooga. ... (click for more)