Interview with Terrence Jones
by Reid Althage
LAFM: Where did you go to high school? Where did you grow up?
I went to Lutcher High School and grew up in Lutcher Louisiana.
LAFM: How was your recruiting process different compared to the recruiting process kids go to today?
Obviously the level of expectation of student athletes now a days is different than when I was being recruited. Now a days, they are looking at more of the entire person. Recruiters are looking at academics, character, and the overall being of a student athlete. Back in my day, it was really just about how good of an athlete a person happened to be. Now they look at the player both on and off the field which I definitely think is a plus. You can better yourself in other ways.
Back in the day, Coaches would come strait to your head coach and say, ” I want to see your game film from Friday night.” They would then make their judgement from an athletic viewpoint of your fit at their university.
Now with Technology, they already have seen you play before they get to your school. When they get there, they are not just talking to your coach. They are reaching out to your guidance counselor and principal. They want to look at your grades and history at your school. All of that is a plus in my opinion. Now the kids have to look at it as coaches are not only concerned with your athletic ability but you as a whole person. They want to make sure that you can develop you over the next 4 years into a young man or young woman. That development is important for the kids and their life after college.
At the end of the day, you have an opportunity to go to college and receive what I call the Academic lottery. Your job is now to be in the classroom and be in sports for the next 4 years of your life. Get your grades and enjoy your God given athletic ability at the next level.
LAFM: What do you think is important for parents and coaches to understand as they take their kids through sports?
I think it is important for these parents and little league coaches to look at the opportunity they have with their kids as a way to help the kids grow as a person through athletics. In life you have trials and tribulations that you have to deal with. The same thing happens in athletics, except in athletics you have to have a shorter memory. At the end of the day, athletics teaches you to deal with challenges good and bad. I always wanted to be even keel throughout my athletic career. Be it in Pop Warner or my 5 years in the Canadian League. I always new that their was another side of the coin I had to take care of in my life. I think it is important for the kids to understand and carry that with them through their athletic career.
LAFM: What advice do you give kids today on the recruiting process?
I try to let them know that God has blessed them with physical abilities, and they should take the opportunity to maximize it. Now, the higher you go the stiffer the competition will be for you as an athlete. In high school, it works out that you are just a tad better than everyone else. You may be an All-American in high school, but in college your going to be competing with another All-American. That is something kids need to realize.
Also, as a college athlete your family has hit the academic lottery. Look at this opportunity as you are going to a four year university to get a degree in order to better yourselves after your playing days. You need a degree in terms of employment. Also, you are going to meet a lot of friends who are going to be life long friends. When you are in college, those are an important four years of your life. Those are memorable years that will help shape you as a person. When talking to the kids, I share the process and taking advantage of it not just from an athletic standpoint, but to enjoy and experience life. You are going to meet different students from different parts of the world. Also, your are not a regular student. You are an athlete, your visible, and there are expectations of you.
All of though intangibles things are important and they need to figure out how to balance out all of those things. They need to balance it out for the reason they are there which is to get a college degree.
Now the Athletic piece of it is a given. You use the athletic part to maximize your experience. It is a great trade off. You cannot just have the mindset for becoming the next great athlete. As an athlete, training is almost year around. Your 4 years are going to fly by. Do not let yourself get to a point halfway through college where you struggle academically and just then realize it. At that point you are behind the 8 ball.
It is always ok to dream. You should dream to get to that professional level. Try and put yourself ahead of the next person. Just at the same time, take the opportunity to get your certificate and degree which will help you once your career is over with.
LAFM: Terrence went on to talk about changing this mindset even starting at the Pop Warner level:
Those are the kind of things that need to be taken place in conversation even at the Pop Warner level. The competitive nature in sports now a days has reached an unhealthy level. Pop Warner sometimes breeds a false mind set to become the next great football, basketball, or baseball player and that is the reason they are being coached. The real reason they are being coached is that this is a part of life. There is always trials and tribulation, but sport gives us a chance to have fun while experiencing that challenge.
LAFM: Looking at your Tulane career, can you remember your first ever game or your first year for Tulane?
I am not sure if I can remember my first game, but I do remember playing my freshman year. I played a lot more as the season continued. It was a surreal moment. I was nervous because of the platform I was on. The amount of people watching, playing at a prestigious program like Tulane, being an All-American out of high school , playing in the Superdome were all things that just amazed me. It took me the first quarter for me to settle down. I was more rushing into the situation my freshman year . Early on it was very challenging because I was not used to that stage. It was more unfamiliar nervousness as opposed to just truly being nervousness. After the first quarter, I could get back to my usual self. It was exciting and the pace of the game was faster than normal. It was an exciting time in 85.
LAFM: How was it playing under Mack Brown?
Mack was a very even keel, detailed, and specific type of coach. As a QB, I really appreciated him. A QB needs to be aware and he was able to approach me with an approach that helped me become aware. Mack and I always talked throughout the week on a regular basis. He and my QB coach were able to put me in a mental mode great for my position. I enjoyed playing for Mack Brown and even revel in it to this day. He was one of those coaches who filtered in anecdotes that would help you in life as well. I enjoyed his style of managing and his expectations of players. I have the utmost respect for him.
LAFM: You were in the running for the Heisman, you were an All-American, you were one of the best QB’s to ever play for Tulane. What was your proudest achievement during your tenure at Tulane?
The fact that I was able make the transition from high school to college, compete early on in my career, stay healthy (which I attribute to working hard in the off-season) and compete all four years of my time at Tulane makes me really proud. I was able to go to the Independence Bowl. We had a good run that year which was my junior year. We almost beat LSU in the Dome. We were a very balanced football team. We put up a lot of numbers on offense and were ranked 6th in the nation in total offense. We were an independent university and did not have a conference. That same year we were 2-1 against SEC opponents. We did not win but at that point Tulane had not gone to a bowl game in a long while. We were able to start bringing the program back into some prominence. It was helpful sharing experiences with those guys that were there before me such as Nickie Hall. I still see those guys now a days. The Heisman Campaign was a great expereince which I had fun doing. We did a photo shoot which took all day which was Indiana Jones themed. It was all very fun.
Off the field, I made a lot of friends. Not just football players, but regular students. I am happy to say I am still friends with many today. Obviously getting my degree was a big deal as well. I came back after my days in Canadian Football. I got my degree in Sports Management in 95. That meant a lot to me. My mother did not understand football. The only thing she really wanted me to accomplish was my degree.
LAFM: Today, the Tulane football program seems to be on the upswing. Would you agree with that and what do you think is the major reason why?
Yes. I think they made a home run in selecting a local football coach in Curtis Johnson. Tulane did not have to get him accustom to the culture here at Tulane and in New Orleans. Although he never coached at Tulane, by being in the city he understood the expectation we have with our program. That learning curve was cut down dramatically by hiring him. He proved dividends early on, and I think we can expect better things from him in the future.
LAFM: Although you elected to go play in the CFL, you were drafted in the 7th round by the chargers. Tell me what your draft experience was like?
It was fun, and I enjoyed it. I went to the combine. Before the draft, I got to play in the Senior Bowl and got Co-MVP at the game. The draft was two days back then. I remember we were at home. Mom and I were very nervous. We had a sports reporter parked outside the home who wanted to be the first to break the story. I told him I did not think I was going that day. The 6th round went that day and I did not get drafted. I went back to my doorm room. I got a call the next morning from WR Coach Charlie Joiner from the Chargers. I was extremely excited. I talked to Head Coach Dan Henning. We chatted a long while. They already had about 4 veteran QBs and had drafted Billy Joe Toliver in the 2nd round. Dan wanted me to come in under another position. An understanding was made between the two of us that I could do that as long as he knew that I was a QB. When I got there, that agreement did not manifest itself. No harsh feelings, I left. I was able to go to Canada for 5 years and play QB.
LAFM: You went back to Tulane to earn a degree. Was that always part of your plan? How important do you think that is for athletes who do not finish their degree?
I was always uncomfortable during my career knowing I did not finish my degree. People will always ask you if you finished. To me, it was uncomfortable always answering with a no. That motivated me to go back and get it done.
A couple things. If you are a draft choice, you obviously have a cushion to wait and come back to finish up when you have time. Now, it should be a commitment made by you to your family and yourself to get a degree. That is why you go to college. A degree shows you were able to do both a sport and school at the same time. A degree speaks volumes to the kind of person you are as an athlete. You cannot play football for 20 years. It cannot be a lifetime job. It speaks to your understanding of yourself and your future.
The guys who do not get drafted should definitely get a degree. Once your 4 years of eligibility is up you have to look at what is next. A degree gives you a future. As an athlete, a degree speaks volumes to an employer when you can say I earned this while playing collegiate athletics. Now a days it carries a lot of weight to say I can manage my time along with my books. Their is so much positives in having a degree as an athlete that their is no reason you should not get a degree.
LAFM: What do you do now? What do you do for the community and kids in the area?
I am a consultant that bridges community and industry together
I have my own youth mentoring company called Locker 10 Room Inc. Now know that the 10 is silent. I have the 10 in there because there is another Locker Room Company in LA. There are 3 parts. The first is Locker Room Academic Enrichment Foundation and Youth College. It targets kids ages 4-13 in the areas of academic enrichment and foundation enrichment. In the foundation enrichment, I get specific with their social issues, peer pressure, and family pressure. It gives them something they can use with their lives when they are dealing with particular issues. Another thing we do with the kids is called Youth to College. I take them on university trips which pertain to them either individually, academically, or career wise. It lets them experience college campuses early on in life. I also have in the Locker Room Company an organization called YMEE. Young Men Enrichment Education. It is strictly for males. It is strictly dealing with young male issues and helping them.
Lastly, I have the private QB training program. It is called Louisiana Jones QB Academy. I am a big proponent of fundamentals and mechanics at the position. In my information flyer, the big QB’s I mention are Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady. These guys are successful in the pocket generally because of their balance. They do not have the strongest arms, but every time they deliver a ball they have great balance underneath their feet. I teach torso alignment, balance with the feet, feet alignment, follow through, and this is a repetitive process with a variation of drills. I show them that you can have the strongest arm but are still not accurate. Being accurate takes you to have the balance in your feet and the right fundamentals. I do not get into what their high school coach is teaching them. Over-coaching is a killer for QBs and other positions. I stress the basic mechanics and fundamentals of the position.