Vik: What’s up guys? This is Vik from the Big Lead. I’m excited to jump on with Ja’Von Rolland Jones today from Arkansas State. He is an all-time sack leader, second in the history of the NCAA. The guy’s a beast, so it should be a fun call. Let’s kick it off…
Vik: Ja’Von what’s going on, what’s good?
Ja’Von: What’s going on man, how are you doing?
Vik: Excited to jump on with you. Thanks for getting on today, it should be a good call especially after what you did at Shrine week and at the Combine.
So, before we get into some questions, I love to hear the athlete’s story. I’ve done some research, but I would love to hear your inspiration, and what got you into football? Why do you love it? Why do you want to play in the NFL?
Ja’Von: I got into it when I was staying with my mom, I think about eight. One day, my dad was like you are going to play football. He didn’t ask if I wanted to play, he was like I’m going to play football. I said all right.
So a week or two went by and then I found out I was moving in with my dad. I showed up at practice, and started playing. Ever since then, I just fell in love with the game, honestly. I think the biggest reason why I want to go to NFL, why I want to play in the NFL, is because it’s such a different group of guys. Everybody can’t walk around and say they played in the NFL.
Obviously, I love it, I love the sport, I love the game of football. I love everything about it. I love the way the grass smells when you go out there. I love when the fans scream in your ear. I love everything about football, so with that being said, I just want to go to NFL and make my mark on the game.
Vik: I love that. Love that you love the way the grass smells, that’s amazing, that’s the kind of guy I’d love on my team. So, with the draft coming up, it’s a month from now, you’re shooting up some draft boards. Are you ready for it? How are you feeling? Has it set in yet?
Ja’Von: No, I don’t think it is going to set in until I get into training camp. As a matter of fact, it might settle in when I get to rookie minicamp. Just the other day I was day dreaming about playing back at Arkansas State. Just how fun it was, the process of getting up for a game, what happens at a game. It was definitely a great experience up there and I’m definitely looking forward to it, but it hasn’t hit me.
Vik: Yes, it’ll be here soon. So how was the Combine experience for you? I know it’s an eye-opener for a lot of guys. How was it for you?
Ja’Von: It was good that comes with the bad. I’ll start with the bad first. I sprained my oblique on my first 40 and I wasn’t able to compete in anything but the 40 and the bench grades. I was kind of down for a little bit, but I called and talked to my mom, my dad, my coach and my agent. He’s a guy I consider family. He told me to keep my head up and that’s what we have a Pro Day for. God has a plan for me. I think I got hurt on purpose because it was his plan. Just go out on Pro Day and show what I really have to offer. I don’t think he thinks I was ready. I thought he did that because he didn’t think I was ready for the Combine.
Vik: You’ll be good. You had a tremendous college career, conference player of the year couple of times. Almost the all-time sack record.
So, a big thing a lot of people are going to ask you is how do you think you’re going to do against NFL comp? Offensive lineman are monsters there, bigger than some of the guys that you’re normally used to battling. How do you see yourself doing in the NFL against those kinds of bigger guys?
Ja’Von: I see myself doing great actually. Once I get up there and learn the system, learn more techniques, and just learn from some guys who have been in the league for a long time, I feel like I can match up very easily.
Vik: I love that. I know you came up a little short on that sack record, talk to me about that? Was that something you were gunning for? Was that ever in the back of your head when you played or did you not really think about it when you were balling?
Ja’Von: I wasn’t really thinking about it. But when I had broken it and they called it back (holding), it was hurtful a little bit. I was just focusing on winning the game. Actually, my coach was going through old film, looking at clips, and he was telling me they sent some stuff to the NCAA because they didn’t give me credit for two of my sacks. So, I might’ve broken it. He said it’s clear cut on film. It’s just that they won’t accept it so far after the season. My coach Brian, he goes through and makes teaching tapes from game tape, so he was going through his book and he said they didn’t give me credit for one sack for sure, and another half sack, so we’ll see.
Vik: All right, I’m going to get behind that a little bit and look into it myself. Start a Twitter petition to get you there.
Talk to me about sacks though. I watched your highlights and you have an entire repertoire of moves. Are there any NFL pass rushers that you love, that you kind of steal them from? Or did you just work on them on your own? How do you come up with them?
Ja’Von: I watch a lot of tape on Von Miller, probably my favorite NFL player. I watched a lot of tape on Khalil Mack. Aaron Donald, even though he is on the inside, his athleticism is amazing. I watched him a lot.
Vik: All those guys are monsters, that’s great. NFL position-wise, how do you see yourself kind of attacking the quarterback? Do you see yourself more in a hybrid role, where you’re standing up or a little bit more down? A lot of people are saying you could do really well in a 3-4. Have you thought about that yet or what do you think?
Ja’Von: Obviously it depends on what system I am going to. If I go into a four-down system, I feel I can hold my own on the edge. If I go into 3-4, I feel like I can move in space and do everything I need to do.
Vik: The game has changed a lot, I think that’s where they can use some athletic guys like you that have really good footwork. It’ll be interesting to see where you go. So I’m a big Bears fan, and the Bears need a pass rusher like you. How much do you know about Chicago? How much do you know about the Bears?
Ja’Von: I know a little bit about the Bears, Brian Urlacher, Sweetness. I know a little bit about the Bears, I grew up a Cowboys fan though. Obviously, I would love to play there, anywhere. Whatever system that fits me basically and whoever thinks I can help their program out the most, I’ll definitely be up for the challenge.
Vik: That’s great. Now you’re a down South guy, you are good with the cold? You ready to come up here and wreak havoc when it’s minus 30 degrees out?
Ja’Von: Yes, no doubt! The cold, it’s all mental. Once you get out there, warmed up, moving around, you’ll be fine.
Vik: All right, I love it. We got some tough guys up here in our division. We got Rodgers, Stafford, Kirk Cousins now, if you come up here, you got to get ready for them and that cold. Speaking of the cold and the snow, have you ever worked a snow blower before?
Vik: Or, shoveled snow?
Ja’Von: No, I haven’t shoveled snow. It snowed a couple times at Arkansas State. We had to maneuver around that out there. And actually, my last fall workout, was in snow. They made us go out there and do it in the snow, it was actually a lot of fun!
Vik: Ok, we got to get you a scarf and jacket big enough to get around you if you get up here, when we hangout.
Ja’Von: No doubt. We can throw some burgers on the grill.
Vik: Talking about food, we’re talking about Chicago. Have you tried deep-dish pizza, Chicago deep-dish?
Ja’Von: No, I haven’t actually been to Chicago, honestly. I haven’t had the chance to go to Chicago. I heard that pizza’s pretty good.
Vik: We got to get you some. If the Bears take you, I’m taking you out for some deep-dish.
Ja’Von: I’ll be down for it.
Vik: Well let’s have some fun questions. What do you do for fun? Are you playing Fortnite like all the other guys right now, or what are you doing for fun?
Ja’Von: I actually downloaded Fortnite, but I haven’t had a chance to play it. I like to play Madden, 2K, and I just downloaded Need for Speed. I’m actually playing that right now.
Vik: Nice, is that how you unwind when you’re not getting ready for football?
Ja’Von: Yes, I like to eat a lot too as well.
Vik: What is your pregame routine before games? Every kid has their own kind of routine. Are you listening to some artists? What are the jams you are listening to? What are you really doing before games?
Ja’Von: Before games, I get in the hot tub, I like to get a massage, I stretch, I pray with our team chaplain. I play a lot of music before the game. I love Lil Wayne, Future, Drake, Moneybagg Yo, Money man. I’ve got a couple of guys.
Vik: That is tight. Everyone’s got to get warmed up in their own way, get you in the right mental state.
The NFL Draft is coming up, what are you going to be wearing? Are you going to get suited up or do you have any plans yet for the draft?
Ja’Von: I’ll be at the house on Draft Day. Definitely more with my people. I just like hanging out, that’s something I want to do on Draft Day. Just be at the house, just chilling, try not to be too uptight. Basically, chill and relax.
Vik: That’s all I had for you today. It was fun talking to you. I’m wishing you all the best, and rooting for you. I’m hoping the Chicago Bears grab you. I’m a big Bears fan, born and raised, and we need a player like you.
You should be great wherever you end up, you’re going to do great. You seem like a good kid and a hard worker, and you got your mind on right.
Ja’Von: Thank you I appreciate the opportunity.
*Edited for clarity.