O-lineman gets an 'A' for effort

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

You'd think most students would behave if 6-foot-6, 337-pound Jermese Jones strolled in to substitute teach their class.

Apparently, the kids in Grade 6, 7 and 8 at a Durham, N.C., elementary school aren't afraid of no offensive lineman.

"You would figure these kids wouldn't do the things that we did growing up, but they still do," Jones lamented yesterday. "You're sitting there staring at them, and they're talking to their friends.

"You're standing there the whole time, but when they look at you, they're like, 'You lookin' at me?'

"Everybody thinks that the kids would be scared of me, but oh no, they'll still try me."

Not afraid

OK, so 13-year-olds may not be afraid of the mass of humanity that is poised to patrol the left tackle position for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this season, but the substitute teacher is hoping that opposing defensive linemen are.

"The whole off-season, I just put the mentality in my head that, first of all, I wanted to be one of the best linemen on our team," Jones said yesterday. "Second of all, I want to be one of the best linemen in the CFL, because I feel like I really haven't turned people's heads the way I wanted to.

"I want to do things to make myself get noticed," Jones said.

Jones, who's in his third season with the Blue and Gold, has been an attention-getter through the first 11 days of training camp.

O-line coach Mike Gibson says Jones isn't one of his "problems," and when a Bomber O-lineman hears that he isn't a problem, he should take that as a mighty big compliment.

"He is, right now, the most improved of the linemen who are returning," Gibson said. "I'm very happy with him, I'm very happy with his work ethic, I'm very happy with how he's picking up things.

"He wants to be a good football player, and he's willing to work at it."

Unlike the students he taught this winter, Jones doesn't think he knows everything. In his quest to become one of the top linemen in the league, he wonders what all-stars like Saskatchewan's Andrew Greene and Montreal's Uzooma Okeke do to stay on top of their games.

"It even got to the point where I thought about calling them to see what they do in the off-season or during the season," Jones said. "Because I just want to get my name out there, and I'll do what I have to do."

Despite the fact the Bombers were 7-11 last year and despite the fact that the O-line was under the microscope the entire time, the 26-year-old Jones still finds himself at left tackle.

He must be doing something right.

"He's there right now, and hopefully he'll hold onto it," Gibson said. "His major competition is himself, to be quite honest with you.

"If he continues to work like he's working, he'll be just fine."

Jones isn't going to take his foot off the pedal any time soon.

"It feels good," he said, "but I feel like I still have a lot more to do, a lot more to prove."


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