Football player, basketball body
At 6-foot-5, 276, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jason Jones thought basketball would be his ticket to a college scholarship. The Detroit native averaged 24 points and 14 rebounds at Lathrup High.
But not many colleges were looking for a 6-5 power forward, so Jones used his basketball skills to become a dominant pass rusher at Eastern Michigan, where he attended school on a football scholarship.
“It’s just your footwork,” he said. “The sliding and the moves that you do in basketball – especially as a pass rusher – helps you out going against offensive lineman and people that are a little bit slower than you.”
Besides Matt Flynn, Jones could prove to be Seattle’s most valuable free agent addition. Jones totaled 15.5 sacks in four seasons with Tennessee, being used mostly as defensive end.
But he signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal in free agency with Seattle because they promised to return him to his more natural position of defensive tackle. Jones replaces last year’s situational pass rusher Anthony Hargrove, who signed with Green Bay in free agency during the offseason.
“That’s the reason they brought me in, so that I could move up and down the line,” Jones said. “You will see me at end, and you will see me inside, too. So you’ll see me up and down the whole line.
“I think the OTAs (organized team activities) really helped me out as far as learning the playbook, the ins and outs of the defense and learning what the coaches want out of me.”
Jordan fan in Motown
Although he hales from Detroit, Jones said he grew up a fan of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. But he also rooted for the Detroit Pistons, Bad Boys Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas.
The Seahawks have a hoop at the team’s facility, so Jones said that players like receiver Sidney Rice, who played basketball at South Carolina, can show off their hoop skills during the team’s down time.
“We were out there yesterday shooting around,” Jones said. “People were seeing if they could still dunk. Sidney’s got a nice little jump shot, too. I think having that out there makes the atmosphere a little more relaxed, and a little more fun.”
Looking for a winner
Jones, 26, took a trip to NFC West division rival St. Louis during free agency. But he said one of the reasons he signed with the Seahawks is because he believes that they have enough talent to make the playoffs and ultimately compete for a Super Bowl.
Jones also likes the characters and camaraderie in his position group.
“There’s a lot of characters and a lot of personalities in the room, which makes it so much fun,” Jones said. “So I know that we can’t wait to get out there and hear that 12th Man roaring so we can get after the quarterback.”