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HERALD DYNAMITE DOZEN PROFILE -- Juwan Jones, Miller County: Can't stop smiling

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

COLQUITT -- The wishlist starts right there on the defensive line of scrimmage, where Juwan Jones makes his home, and it bounces around the field like a ping-pong ball in a parking lot.

Pardon the cliche, but Jones does just about everything for the Miller County Pirates except drive the bus. But even that may be a temporary situation.

"I'll drive the bus,'' Jones joked Tuesday. "I can drive it.''

He probably can.

"Juwan is one of those guys who can do anything he wants to do,'' said Miller County Coach Frank Killingsworth, who has Jones playing both ways at defensive end and tight end, and has used him as his tailback and as a receiver.

But that's not all.

Jones is also returning kickoffs and punts this season -- possibly the only defensive end in the nation who has recorded a sack as well as a punt return for a touchdown in a game.

One more thing: Last week, when Miller ran a running play on the last snap of regulation to beat Northview (Ala.), 28-22, guess who was the leading blocker on that play?

"He's a beast,'' said Miller safety Adrian Hayes, a junior. "He can do it all.''

And that's OK because Jones wants to do a lot.

That's where the wishlist comes in, a list of goals Jones has for himself this season. They start with sacks, because that's what Jones does best. He's a 6-foot-2, 220-pound defensive end who plans on adding some bulk and playing linebacker in college. He's big, fast and mean -- that is, when he's not smiling (but more on that later).

Jones had 16 sacks as a junior, but it might be impossible for him to duplicate that because he's getting double-teamed on almost every play this season.

"My goal is 20 sacks this season,'' said Jones, who then quickly started rattling off the rest of his wishlist. "I want to make 100 tackles, and score 10 touchdowns on offense as a receiver. I want to return five punts for touchdowns, and five kickoffs for touchdowns. Those are my goals for the season -- but most important, this is the year we want to win state.

"I feel like I owe it to my team for us to win state this year. I want to do everything I can to help us win it.''

And somewhere along the way, get some rest.

Saturdays are bed days for Jones -- all day.

"I just stay in bed and rest. I get breakfast, read The Albany Herald and watch the (Georgia Bulldogs),'' Jones said. "This year, I'm on the field for just about every play except field goals and extra points.''

And when he's exhausted on the field?

"There's always something left in the tank no matter how tired I am.'' Jones said. "I'll find it.''

Just like he did two weeks ago in the second half in a close game against Early County. That's when Jones fielded his first clean punt of the season. He broke free for a 70-yard TD.

"I fumbled the first punt to me and then the second punt went over my head -- but the first time I (actually) fielded a punt I scored,'' he said. "I was tired when I got the punt, but when you are tired, you just have to push yourself.''

He does that on every play -- especially when he faces double-teams as the Pirates' star defensive end.

"They're double-teaming him on every pass play,'' Killingsworth said. "And they're holding him a lot. He's had six holding calls already.''

And that's just the ones that have been called.

"I get held on just about every play,'' Jones said. "They're grabbing my jersey as I go by them. But you can't let that get in the way. You just have to keep fighting through it. It's football, and they are not going to make every call. You can't worry about that.''

Even when he doesn't get the sack, he creates havoc.

"We've had five interceptions this season,'' Hayes said. "I think all of them are because of him. He's just an unstoppable object. Nobody can stop him.''

That's one reason Killingsworth has even put Jones in the backfield in the I-formation, where he scored on a 4-yard run as a running back. He also has caught a TD pass. That's three TDs in three games: a punt return, a rushing TD and one receiving.

"I can throw a pass if they want me to,'' Jones said. "I was the quarterback on the eighth grade team.''

If he throws one, you can bet there will be some smoke on it.

"He's goes hard on every play. He's just so intense, so focused,'' said linebacker Trevontii Barber, who also plays fullback. "He wants to make something happen on every play. And when he's playing defense, he wants to hurt the other team as much as possible.''

That's Jones' first love.

"He's so intense sometimes I have to reel him in,'' Killingsworth said. "He loves to hit, and he knows the game. And he has the size and speed most folks don't have. His first step off the ball (as a DE) is so quick, it's so hard to block him. He's so much quicker than anybody else.''

"I believe he can play at the Division I level and be used as a linebacker. He'll be over (6-foot-2) and 235 (pounds) by then.''

Jones has come a long way in Colquit, where he started playing football at the age of 8. His youth league baseball coach told him he should play football, and most of the kids on his rec league team now play for the Pirates, including his younger brother, Jacolby, a sophomore. Jones started out in the backfield and at QB, but eventually moved to defensive end.

"I started getting a little chubby after eighth grade,'' Jones said. "I still play basketball (he averages a double-double for the Pirates) and baseball. One of my best memories in sports is in baseball.''

Jones was 10 and he got into a fight with the coach's son during a game. The coach ripped into him.

"I'll never forget it,'' Jones said. "I cried. I went to the plate and I was still crying. Then I hit a home run. I'll never forget that.''

He doesn't forget much.

"The most (unbelievable) thing about Juwan is his memory,'' Killingsworth said. "He will tell me things I said to him three and four years ago. He remembers everything. He'll just come up with stuff from out of the blue (like) some play a team ran against us or something that was said four years ago. It's really uncanny.''

Jones leads the defense, and always seems to be a play ahead, knowing what the opposition is going to run.

"He sees everything,'' Barber said. "It's like having another coach on the field.''

The kids even say Jones talks more than the coaches.

"He talks more than anyone, and about anything: football, music, girls, what everybody is doing. He loves to talk,'' Barber said. "We'll be coming home from a long road game and everyone on the bus will be asleep, and Juwan will be the only one talking. You can hear him talking about the game.''

And he'll talk to anyone -- and everyone.

"Juwan never meets a stranger,'' Killingsworth said. "He's always in a good mood.''

And always smiling. Jones doesn't just smile, he radiates, going coast to coast with a set of teeth that were born to be on a commercial.

"Everyone kids me about it,'' Jones said. "They say I smile with all 32 teeth, and sometimes they kid me and say I've got 32 and more. Teachers get mad at me. They say: 'Wipe that smile off your face.' But I'm being serious. I just can't help smiling.''

Killingsworth knows that smile better than anyone.

"He's intense, but during a break during a game, I'll look over at him, and he's always smiling. The sun is always bright and shining in Juwan's world."

Killingsworth then paused before adding: "He's a player. He's got that competitive drive to win. It's his drive coupled with his intelligence that keeps his motor running.''