Submitted Photo/Courtesy of Jermaine Jones
Ex-Central Catholic High School and Northwestern State University standout Jermaine Jones will be inducted into Northwestern State University's N-Club Hall of Fame Saturday in Natchitoches. Jones was drafted by the New York Jets after college and played in the Arena Football League. (Submitted Photo/Courtesy of Northwestern State University Athletics)
CCHS alum Jones to be inducted into Northwestern State athletic hall of fame
Central Catholic High alum and former Northwestern State University standout Jermaine Jones will be inducted into the university’s N-Club Hall of Fame Saturday.
While Jones had a standout collegiate career on the gridiron and played the sport professionally, his aspirations in high school were to continue playing basketball in college, not football.
However, a pact with then recently-hired Central Catholic football Coach Tommy Minton one Saturday morning over a 50-cent strawberry snowball eventually prompted a change of heart.
Minton, who had begun his rebuilding process of turning the Eagles’ fortunes around after 11 straight years without a playoff berth, immediately recognized the talent of Jones on the basketball court.
“I saw how talented he was, and I said ‘if I’m going to have a chance to win, I got to get that kid out (for football),’” Minton said.
So one Saturday, he picked up Jones at his house, brought him to get a snowball and made a pact with him. If Jones didn’t score four touchdowns in the Eagles’ opener, he could quit.
Come the season opener, Jones scored six touchdowns and rushed for 200-plus yards, Minton said.
He finished his senior year with 1,500 rushing yards and had more than 100 tackles as a linebacker.
“He was the reason we turned it around so quick and got in the playoffs that first year for the first time in 11 years,” Minton said.
Twenty-five years later, Jones laughed at the story and said even if he wouldn’t have scored the four touchdowns in the season-opener, he would not have quit.
“Whatever I seek to start, I seek to finish,” Jones said.
The ex-All-American will be joined by fellow ex-All-American Latrell Frederick, ex-NFL standout Floyd Turner, ex-softball player Brandy Kenney, ex-tennis player Barbara Tons, ex-basketball pro Larry Terry, former softball and volleyball coach Rickey McCalister and retired athletic trainer Ed Evans in the N-Club Hall of Fame. Northwestern State vice president Jerry Pierce will receive the N-Club’s Leadership Award.
The group was selected by voting of N-Club members, a committee of N-Club members and school administrators. The N-Club is the school’s group of its past athletic winners.
Jones said it is a “privilege” to be recognized in this hall of fame.
“The thing I’m most thankful for is the people that I can actually give recognition to who helped me from my days of playing sports,” he said, noting Lenny Dartez, his first Pop Warner football coach, and Minton as two to be thanked.
He also said his parents, Joe and Jackie Jones, his brother, Jovian Jones and Charles Poole, a good friend and ex-MCHS and then-University of Southwestern Louisiana linebacker, are others to thank.
Poole, he said, got him interested in lifting weights.
“I hated lifting weights,” he said.
Jones said being a multi-sport athlete helped him on the football field.
“I realized that basketball was one of the hardest sports, because you’re doing every last movement,” Jones said. “Then you get on the football field, and you’re already in shape.”
Jones received a football scholarship to Northwestern State and walked on the basketball team his first year, too.
He redshirted his freshman year in football and played running back and wide receiver his redshirt freshman year.
Then, in the spring after his redshirt freshman year, he was switched to cornerback, “which I had no idea what I was doing,” he said.
He had to rely on his athletic ability until he learned the system in college.
“Actually, me playing wide receiver helped me become a better cornerback, because I knew what the wide receiver was thinking when I moved to cornerback,” he said.
He went on to become a consensus All-American cornerback for Northwestern, which won the 1998 Southland Conference title and reached the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals.
His final year at Northwestern State, Jones was runner-up for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is given to FCS’ top defensive player. He also was named the 1998 Southland Conference Player of the Year and the All-Louisiana Defensive Player of the Year.
He was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the New York Jets in 1999 and played in the Arena Football League for the Dallas Desperadoes, concluding his career in 2008.
Jones now works at a Dallas, Texas, school where he manages the school’s database, among other things.
Saturday’s ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at Magal Recital Hall and is open to the public. The group also will be recognized Saturday night during the Northwestern State football game against Houston Baptist.