By Matt Sugam
When searching for a place to train for the NFL Combine and Pro Day, prospects typically pick far off places from their college and hometown. The reasoning is simple. The isolation will keep them from distractions and focused on training.
But for Brandon Jones, leaving the confines of New Jersey would have been more of a disturbance to his training. His mind would have been preoccupied with his three-year-old daughter Amaya.
“I couldn’t just leave my girl here by herself. I got responsibilities that I have to handle,” Jones told SNY.tv. “But at the same time I wanted to get the best training that I could.”
Which is why the Sicklerville, NJ native chose TEST in Martinsville. Just a 20 minute commute from New Brunswick, Jones was able to get top-tier training and stay close to his daughter.
Training since December 31 – just two days after he got back from Rutgers’ bowl game – the cornerback’s primary focus has been what is the main event at the Combine and Pro Days for the skill position players.
The 40-yard dash.
“I always try to catch balls every day and do football things,” Jones said. “But when it comes down to it, Pro Day – you do drills at the end, but it’s mostly about your 40 time.”
With Rutgers’ Pro Day approaching on March 13, Jones is happy with the progress he’s made in the 40 thus far. Jones has confidence in his time right now and knows it’s only going to get better before he runs in front of the NFL scouts. And put to bed any questions about his speed.
“No teams really know what our 40 times are. That goes for all of us, all the guys that are coming out. They don’t know what we’re going to run,” Jones said. “So it’s kind of that question mark next to our names for what we’re going to run on Pro Day.”
While Jones hopes that’s in the low 4.4s, there’s one aspect of his character that was displayed his junior year that should resonate with NFL teams.
Jones fractured his tibia early in the season. He opted to hold off on surgery until the end of the season and play through the pain as the injury got progressively worse over the course of the year until it was 75% fractured.
Despite the ailment, Jones still started all 13 games. And with the leg healed to 100%, the triumph of his junior year is what sticks out most in Jones’ college career.
”Playing this game my whole life, you find it’s not a selfish sport. It’s 11 guys on the field trying to make things happen, so I think it just kind of shows the type of person I am,” Jones said. “That I put my team before myself and I think anybody that does that, they’re going to do well…
“I hope it just shows the type of character I have, the mental toughness I have that I can play through pain, that I can play though injuries.”
While Jones knows he’s on the fringe of being a draftable player or sign on as an undrafted free agent, he’s not concerning himself with where he’ll end up and how he gets there. He knows he just needs one team to give him a shot.
“I’m just putting my head down right now, and wherever the chips fall, I’m going to make the most of it,” Jones said, adding, “I know I’m going to get my chance and when I get it I just have to take advantage of it.”
Being able to live out his boyhood dream and care for his toddler daughter in the process.
“That’s always been the goal, and it still is the goal and everyday I wake up and go to work with that in the front of my mind so that’s definitely my motivation. That’s my why for what I do,” Jones said. “And it’s something I love. I love football so I’m going to play he game as long as I can.”