Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Jones assesses ‘big picture,’ reflects on time here

In college football, many guidelines exist to determine the success of an individual during his tenure at school: how well he played, what he meant to his team, number of individual awards, number of wins, number of championships.

Some players achieve some of these feats, while others achieve more. Alabama senior center Barrett Jones, however, has attained every one in spades. Since 2008, Jones has become one of the most celebrated players in the game by doing so.

He’s consistently been one of Alabama’s best linemen on the team – and on a team such as Alabama, that’s saying something. He’s proved his versatility and talent every year, turning in playing time at right guard, left tackle and most recently at the center position.

In terms of individual awards, Jones has become one of the most decorated linemen in Alabama history. In 2011, he won the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s best interior lineman at left tackle, widely regarded as the hardest position on the line. In 2012, Jones has gone on to win the Rimington, awarded to the nation’s top center.

And for good measure, he also won the academic equivalent of the Heisman in the John W. Campbell Award, just to prove he has brain as well as brawn.

In terms of wins and championships, only a select number of players have come close to the success Jones and his class have seen at Alabama: 49 wins in four seasons, 60 wins in five seasons, and three championships in four seasons.

But, much like many greats to have played the game, Jones’s accomplishments haven’t come without their doubts.

“There’s a Sports Illustrated hanging in my room, because I’m on it, from 2009,” Jones said. “It says, ‘Dynasty: Can anyone stop Alabama?’ I’ll never forget looking at that thing and wondering if we really could be a dynasty.”

But rather than merely witnessing the unbelievable string of success Alabama has seen over the last five years, Jones has had a hand in creating it. In all three of Alabama’s championships over the last four seasons, Jones started. He was instrumental to the success of the offensive line in each of those years and is largely responsible for the success of the offense and the team.

And now Jones has finished off his college career as the key component to one of the best offensive lines in college football history with a win over Notre Dame, a feat only one other Alabama team has accomplished.

The gravity of the accomplishment didn’t escape Jones, who usually doesn’t allow himself to look at his or his class’s accomplishments in terms of the “big picture.”

“It’s just hard to believe that I’m actually a part of something like this,” Jones said. “Something like three out of four. It’s just a significant accomplishment in college football history. I think pretty much teams will pretty much always remember what this team accomplished over the past four years, and it’s pretty special to be a part of it.”

Jones added to his legacy over the last two games of the season by helping to lead his team over the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in Notre Dame and Georgia respectively, all with torn ligaments in his foot. Even after it was revealed Jones’s injury is the kind that typically ends football seasons, he continued to play it off.

“Just kind of an annoying injury, where the ligaments in the middle of your foot tear,” Jones said. “There was no way I was missing this game. I wasn’t going to miss it for anything. You’d have to pull me off that field. I loved the way I finished it, and it was fun.”

Such acts of toughness from Jones have earned him the devotion of the Alabama fandom, as well as the respect for his teammates, especially his fellow linemen. Of course, Jones’s toughness isn’t what’s made him a household name in Alabama. That would be his natural talent and versatility to play any position on the line.

Senior guard Chance Warmack, likely to be the first offensive lineman in the 2013 NFL Draft, couldn’t say enough about Jones’s importance to the team.

“He’s very smart and very talented,” Warmack said. “He knows the offense and defense very well, and he can adjust at any position, so he brings versatility to the offense.”

Jones’s talent and versatility will not be the most lasting legacy he leaves at Alabama, however. That will be how he handled himself as a leader, not just for the offensive line but also for the entire team. Jones, who’d already seen incredible success at Alabama, could have easily checked out for his senior year, unmotivated to continue the kind of success he’d already seen so much of. But this year, as a senior, he was tasked with becoming more of a leader for his team – all the seniors were – and has come through with flying colors.

Case in point: The Thursday before the game, Jones and the rest of the seniors called a players-only meeting to discuss the lack of explosiveness in team practices thus far. Rather than let the problem continue, Jones and the rest of the senior class addressed the problem. Four days later, that meeting culminated in a 42-14 beat-down over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

And now Jones has cemented himself as one of the all-time greatest players in Alabama football history. No single team, player or group of player has seen the type of success that Jones has during his time at the Capstone. Whether it’s in terms of wins, championships or any intangible factor, none come close to what Jones has accomplished.

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