When LB Jarvis Jones from Columbus, Ga., committed and signed a letter of intent with USC on Feb. 4, 2009, it was yet another huge recruiting coup for Coach Pete Carroll and his staff.
And Jones got significant playing time as a true freshman until a neck injury forced him to the sidelines for the second half of the season.
Eventually the USC medical staff decided not to clear Jones to return to the playing field and he was forced to transfer, despite USC being a school Jones was extremely happy at.
“I had made a lot of friends there, became close with a lot of my teammates who I worked with and I loved SC, loved playing there, loved everything about the school” said Jones. “But I had to make a decision for myself, because I wanted to further my career. So, leaving SC was something I had to do, it was a decision I had to make.”
Jones said it was a difficult decision to leave USC and his teammates, but it simply didn’t appear he’d ever have an opportunity to play football at USC again. And Jones was an extremely popular player with his teammates, so his departure somewhat stunned many of his USC mates.
“At the time when I was evaluated by the USC medical staff, we weren’t really moving forward with anything, and they were telling me I was done, and that I wasn’t going to play anymore,” said Jones. “I don’t think they were ever going to try and play me again, so I made a decision to find a place where I could have a chance to play.”
Although he’s now thousands of miles from USC at The University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., Jones still keeps in touch with many of his former teammates.
“Absolutely, I talk to a lot of them,” said Jones about his former teammates at USC. “I talk to Brice Butler, T.J. McDonald, T.J. Bryant, Jawanza Starling, Frankie Telfort and I are really close, Allen Bradford, Torrin Harris, Byron Moore, Kyle Prater and a lot of the guys.”
Because of the three hour time difference between Los Angeles and Athens, and the fact many USC games aren’t even aired in parts of the South, Jones has not been able to follow the Trojans as closely as he’d liked to.
“I try to keep up as much as I can, but it’s tough because of the different time zones, “ Jones said. “I caught a couple of games early on, but I really haven’t been able to follow USC as closely as I would have liked to.”
Jones said he was able to follow closely the development of Coach Pete Carroll’s departure from USC to Seattle, despite being at home in Columbus and watching it all unfold on television, like everyone else around the country.
“It was surprising to all of us and I know it wasn’t something I was expecting,” said Jones about Pete Carroll leaving USC for the Seahawks. “As a matter of fact, I was at home at the time for our break, and it came on ESPN. I was just sitting in the house watching TV and they were talking about Coach Caroll might leave. I was saying, ‘Coach Carroll isn’t leaving, he told me he wasn’t leaving, you know? In the end it was a business decision and he did what he thought was best for him and his family.”
What was so surprising about Carroll leaving USC for so many people, was it seemed like the perfect job for him.
“I thought it was too, said Jones about USC being the perfect spot for Carroll. “He pretty much got every player he wanted, got everyone to play the style of football he wanted and it just seemed like he had everything he wanted. I still really don’t know why he decided to leave.”
We asked Jones if Carroll was a big reason for him ending up a Trojan?
“Pete Carroll was one of the reasons I went to USC, but the main reason was because of Coach (Ken) Norton,” said Jones. “He was a big reason why I went to USC.”
“Coach Richt and Coach Carroll are a lot different,” said Jones. “Coach Carroll is more of an up-tempo and high-energy, guy and Coach Richt is more laid back, a down to business guy, a godly and spiritual man and straightforward. Both are great men and someone you can put your trust into.”
Jones wasn’t at USC when the NCAA sanctions were levied upon USC, but he said he thinks the penalties were too severe.
“I thought it was a kind of crazy, but I didn’t know what was going on,” said Jones about the sanction levied upon USC by the NCAA. “I had just gotten out of there and that’s why some people thought I was leaving, but I actually left before they announced the penalties. When it hit, I thought it was crazy. I don’t think they should have been hit that hard, but all the guys can do now is keep working hard everyday and just win every game….at least try to.”
With the 2010 season in the books for Georgia and Jones, he can look forward to getting back on the playing field during games, something he was unable to do last season because he had to sit out a year. But he did practice at full speed this year.
“I did everything the team did,” said Jones. “I practiced every day, worked on strength and conditioning and was on the scout team against the first-team offense pretty much the whole season.”
Before we ended our conversation, Jones had these words for USC fans and those who were affiliated with the USC football program while he was there.
“I want you to let everyone know I loved SC, I was thankful for the time I was there, for the people that I met and the opportunity that I got there,” said Jones. “Now I am 100% healthy and I’ve got some work to do before I get on the field, but everything has been going great. Every day I was at USC I had fun. Even when they told me I couldn’t play anymore, I still kept hope and tried to keep it out of my head. But everyday I had a great time and I loved SC.”