Don’t assume redshirt sophomore Dominick Jones got a big head from winning the starting cornerback job in fall camp.
No, teammates will say his head has been that big all along. Big as in literally larger than usual. So big that for the last few years they’ve ignored his given name and have taken to calling him “Bob” instead.
“It happened two years ago,” Jones said. “They said I had a big head, so they started calling me Bobblehead. Then everybody started calling me Bobble. Then the coaches got around to it and everybody just started calling me Bob.”
It’s taken on a life of its own. He flashed a wristband that had his uniform number next to the name “Bob Jones.” He can’t even escape it when he goes home to New Orleans, where his mother has taken to calling him Bob on occasion as well.
But hey, at least that big cranium has a use.
“Everyone in our secondary has the ability to run, jump and do all the things athletes do,” said senior free safety Sean Thomas. “But he’s a guy that deciphers routes and plays. His mental game has helped him get over the edge. That’s what he really brings.”
Ragin’ Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth agreed, though he may have unknowingly slipped a in a punchline.
“He’s very heady,” Hudspeth said.
Jones entered fall camp in a competition with junior college transfer Antoinne Adkins for the starting cornerback job opposite senior Corey Trim, but he hasn’t given Adkins much of a chance to take the job. He’s worked with the first-team unit ever since camp opened on August 4, taking just about every first-team rep even while he’s battled a nagging toe injury.
Working against polished seniors like Jamal Robinson and James Butler every day in practice has sharpened Jones’ skills. But in order to get to the point where he could test himself against the best, Jones had to put in the work off the playing field so he could stand out on it.
“I’ve come a long way,” Jones said. “The main thing is that I’ve been working hard off the field on my own time, getting my own work in and trying to separate myself.”
Jones attacked the weight room and the film room like he was running a corner blitz from the quarterback’s blindside. The result was a bigger, faster and smarter Jones. Coaches noticed, awarding him the most improved player award after spring drills.
“That guy has really earned his stripes,” Hudspeth said. “I was a little concerned when he first got here if he was going to be big enough or fast enough. But I’ve got to give him credit, he worked his tail off and has earned the respect of everybody on the team including the staff.”
Thomas has enjoyed seeing Jones develop. The two were high school teammates at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, where they locked down opposing wideouts as the starting cornerbacks when Thomas was a senior and Jones was a junior.
“That’s my little protégé,” said Thomas, who lit up in a smile when asked about Jones. “Seeing him grow as a person — he got bigger, stronger, he was one of the fastest guys this summer — he worked hard in the offseason. I’ve enjoyed seeing his work ethic.”
The pair built a close relationship in high school and when Jones landed with the Ragin’ Cajuns Thomas took him under his wing.
“He’s like family to me,” Jones said. “It’s not just on the football field, we hang out all the time. It’s been like that since high school. We carried it over to college and we do the same thing. We’ve got good communication on the field also. He gives me tips on defensive backs stuff and I help him out.”
Thomas lauded Jones’ dedication to get to where he is right now, saying it’s been an all-around transformation for Jones. Jones is bigger, smarter and less reserved than he was when he first arrived on campus.
It’s like he’s a new man. Even his name is different.
“He’s got a good chance of starting for us this year,” Thomas said. “It’s good to be back on the field with him for my last year again. It’s going to be memorable.”