Kentucky pride drives unheralded fullback to give Cats his all

jsmith3@herald-leader.comNovember 20, 2013 

  • next game

    Kentucky at Georgia

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday

    Records: Kentucky 2-8 (0-6 SEC); Georgia 6-4 (4-3)

    TV: ESPNU

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

Kentucky's Cody Jones didn't necessarily grow up wanting to be a fullback.

Who would really?

"It's probably the worst job on the field, to be honest," he said. "You literally just run around all the time hitting people. I'm so sore the next day and as soon as I heal up, I gotta go back at it again."

But it seems sort of a fitting job for the senior from Williamsburg, who wears his heart on his sleeve because he gets to wear Kentucky across his chest.

"Somebody's gotta do it," the 5-foot-11, 215-pounder said last week. "I'm just glad it's me."

Jones, a four-year starter at Whitley County who left with the school's all-time record in points scored and touchdowns, has played a backup role at Kentucky since he transferred in from Morehead State in 2010.

Fullback isn't a staple of the Air Raid offense, so Jones wasn't sure how things would go for him once Neal Brown was hired as offensive coordinator at the end of last season.

But it's meant big things for Jones.

"I felt like I didn't get a chance really last year, so I was just grateful to these guys; this staff, they're the best," Jones said. "They don't play favorites. I just made the most of my opportunity."

It's meant being the primary fullback in six straight games this season and getting a chance to showcase himself, not just as a strong blocker, but as a team leader.

"He's just determined," Brown said of his senior fullback. "He's given us some backbone. He's a tough, physical kid from Kentucky, walked on here. It's important to him. And his toughness shows. And he just won the job. He really just won the job."

In the Missouri game, Jones was credited with six knockdown blocks, his coaches said.

Jones isn't ever going to blow up a stat sheet, in fact his name appears only once in this season's statistics and that's for his five tackles via special teams.

His only career carries were as a sophomore when he ran the ball twice for 8 yards against Jacksonville State.

But his coaches and teammates don't need to see Jones' name on paper to know what he contributes.

"He's created a lot of opportunities for us in our run game," running backs coach Chad Scott said. "Cody Jones has done a great job of going out there and blocking, he's done a great job of getting moving, creating some holes for those guys. It's been real beneficial for us."

Senior running back Raymond Sanders can't imagine the team without Jones.

"He goes in there and sticks his head in every play," Sanders said. "He just plays hard and even when he makes mistakes, you know he's doing it at 110 miles per hour. He'll give you everything he's got."

The Air Raid offense doesn't have a regular place for a fullback. Jones is used situationally, but Scott said he's made his way onto the field more recently because of how hard he plays.

Even when Jones isn't in the play, he's a part of every play, Sanders said.

"He gives me a head butt every time I come off the field," the UK running back said. "Even in games when his fullback spot isn't used as much, he's still on the sideline every play to greet his teammates."

Jones is willing to do whatever is asked.

"I grew up loving Kentucky," he said. "I always had this vision of playing here and I'm glad I'm here and from the state. It means more to me than these boys from Florida. It means a lot more."

Brown knows the feeling.

He's a Kentucky kid, too.

And he's developed a bit of a kinship with Jones.

"He's giving everything," Brown said. "There's nobody it's more important to than him, I can promise you that. He's giving us everything he has."


next game

Kentucky at Georgia

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Records: Kentucky 2-8 (0-6 SEC); Georgia 6-4 (4-3)

TV: ESPNU

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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