The final day of the NFL Draft may be the most nerve-wracking day of them all. Players wait anxiously for that one call from any team that marks the fulfillment of childhood dreams. Aaron Jones was one of those players and he spent Saturday waiting at his parent’s house in El Paso in anticipation of that life-changing call.
As Jones put it later on, “I was getting a little antsy and a little frustrated.”
Just after noon local time, Jones got a call from the Baltimore Ravens expressing their interest to take him in a later round with their next pick. It was a sign that the moment was coming for Jones but his wait wasn’t over yet. Then, just after 1:30 p.m., after more than three and a half hours of waiting, the call finally came.
“When I picked up the phone, I saw that Green Bay was up and a Wisconsin area code came up,” Jones said, “As soon I saw that, I thought, ‘This could be it right here.’”
— Tony Venegas (@OA_TVenegas) April 29, 2017
Jones was selected with the 39th pick of the fifth round (182 overall) by the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. It was the end of a long draft process that started with his New Year’s Eve press conference declaring for the draft to the call from general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy.
“Words can’t even express what I’m feeling. My son is a professional running back in the National Football League. What a blessing,” said Aaron’s father, Alvin Jones Sr., following the announcement.
As running backs came one by one off the board, uncertainty had been building all morning into the afternoon as to where Jones would eventually land. The Packers had been reported as a potential landing spot for Jones, but they spent a fourth round selection on another running back, BYU’s Jamaal Williams, and some thought that it might have taken Green Bay out of the running as a possible destination for UTEP’s all-time leading rusher.
But when Aaron picked up the phone and signaled to his twin brother and UTEP linebacker Alvin Jr. to get his mom and have Alvin Sr. go to the front of the living room to choose from a stack of hats, the mood suddenly changed from anxiousness to eager anticipation. The moment had arrived. For Aaron, it was relief. For the large group of family, friends and teammates watching along with him, it was pure joy.
“I didn’t see my dad grab the hat,” Alvin Jones Jr. said, “I just saw that he put it in front of him because I was staring at Aaron. He told me ‘Green Bay’ and my dad came over and asked me, ‘Which team?’ and I told him Green Bay and then he went and picked up the hat. It’s surreal.”
“When they told me, ‘Mom, come here,’ I told somebody if I fall just pick me up,” said Aaron’s mother Vurgess Jones, laughing as she recalled that moment. “You never know how built up it is until it happens. Alvin told me to stop shaking but I couldn’t because I was just elated. I can’t explain it.”
Jones is the first El Paso player drafted in the NFL since Fordham quarterback and Burges Mustang John Skelton was selected in the fifth round by the Arizona Cardinals in 2010. He’ll now have his chance to make his mark in a place that’s only slightly colder than Glendale, Arizona or El Paso. But, he’ll get to do it with someone he’s already gotten to know through the draft process in Jamaal Williams who both share the same agent.
“Jamaal and I have hung out a couple of times and it’s pretty cool,” he said, “We’re both different backs. He’s a bigger back and they see me more as an all-around back. They’ll be putting us in different roles but I think the competition will make both of us better.”
As for Alvin Jones Jr., he’s excited to add a new tradition that he and Aaron shared growing up.
“He’s someone you can play with on Madden. We’ve been playing Madden for 10 to 15 years and now you can play as him. It’s going to be crazy.”
Jones also said that he would wear 33 in Green Bay, a departure from the 29 he wore at UTEP for four years. He will head up to Wisconsin on May 11th to start with his new team and is ready to don the green and gold for the very first time.
“It’s definitely a blessing, a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming of this moment ever since I was a little kid and for it to actually come true is definitely amazing. God put me in the spot where I’m supposed to be.”
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