Player Interviews

Jamaal Jones: ‘I might have to get a job at Foot Locker’


The NFL Draft spanned 13 hours over three days, during which time 253 players heard their names called by one of the league’s 32 teams. When Montana WR Jamaal Jones failed to hear his name, he thought his football career was over.

“After the draft, when I never heard my name called, there was about a 10-minute waiting period that was probably the worst I’ve felt throughout this whole process,” Jones told

Ten minutes felt like an eternity as thoughts of his uncertain future rushed into his head.

“Not hearing anything you start to think, ‘Oh, I may not have a future in this,’” Jones said.

“I might have to get a job at Foot Locker.”

Fortunately, the Chargers had different plans. Shortly after the conclusion of the draft, Jones (6’1″, 189 lbs.) was contacted by the Chargers and offered a deal as an undrafted free agent.

With his immediate future more clear, Jones’ focus now shifts to making the 53-man roster. However, with eight other wide receivers currently on the roster, his toughest challenge to date remains squarely in front of him.

As of today, Jones’ will see training camp reps alongside veterans Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Stevie Johnson, Dontrelle Inman, Javontee Herndon and Tyrell Williams, as well as fellow rookies DeAndre Reaves and Dominique Williams.

Considering no more than six receivers will make the final roster — and with Allen, Benjamin, Johnson and Inman all but guaranteed spots — Jones will have to play near-perfect football to survive the numbers game.

When confronted about the odds he must overcome, Jones remained confident in his ability to contribute at the highest level.

“I plan on making plays when the opportunity presents itself and doing whatever I need to do to help the team,” he said. “Whether that be special teams or getting in on offense, I will do whatever I can to make my mark.”

If Jones makes the roster, it won’t be the first time he has defied expectations.

Growing up in Spanaway, Wash., Jones excelled at both basketball and football. He was a standout athlete at Graham-Kapowsin H.S., earning first-team All-South Puget Sound League honors at wide receiver.

After graduating high school, Jones attended the University of Washington in hopes of continuing his football career. After redshirting his true freshman season in 2011, Jones was disappointed when he saw limited action in 2012, appearing in only three games.

Knowing he was capable of more, Jones asked the Washington coaching staff about whether he would see more playing time in his third year with the team. With too many hungry mouths to feed, Washington’s coaches could not guarantee Jones the role that he desired and recommended that he transfer. So, that’s exactly what he did.

With the advice of former UW coach and current Ravens assistant Torrey Myers, Jones transferred to Montana, roughly 500 miles east of where he grew up.

Jones took one look at the snow-capped mountains in Montana and never looked back.

In his first year with the Grizzlies, Jones tallied 42 receptions for 780 yards and three touchdowns, a massive improvement from his time at Washington. He continued to improve each year at Montana, finishing his career with 184 receptions for 3,021 yards.

Jones finished as the top receiver in Grizzlies history, despite playing only three years there. Given the opportunity, he became one of the FCS’s best receivers.

For Jones, the wait is over. There are no more combines, tests, drills or hypotheticals. The onus now falls on him and his ability make his mark and earn his spot.

If Jones can be as successful with his transition into the NFL as he was with his transition from Washington to Montana, the Chargers will have some difficult decisions to make when they start finalizing their regular-season roster. 

About Jesse Cohen

Jesse Cohen graduated from the University of California, San Diego, where he received his B.S. in Physics. This background helps Jesse to find insight through a statistically comprehensive and analytical view of the topics he covers. When he’s not covering sports, he plays professional ultimate for the San Diego Growlers.

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