"QUINTORRIS LOPEZ JONES, Y'ALL!!!!"
If you were my Facebook friend during the last couple of college football seasons, you no doubt saw that status update from me a few dozen times. Usually when the aforementioned, better known as Julio Jones, would make a big play or score a touchdown for Bama.
And if you don't know by now, yes, that IS his actual real name. Quintorris.
Julio is my favorite offensive player to ever play for Bama. Rolando McClain is my favorite on defense. Julio was one of the most popular players to ever wear Crimson, even being voted Student Body President in a write-in campaign as a freshman. Of course, he turned down those duties because he was too busy playing football, but it just goes to show how well thought of he was around campus as well as by us fans who aren't students.
Tonight was Julio's debut as a rookie wide receiver in the NFL. And what an outstanding debut it was. The first two plays of the game were passes to him. In both cases, Julio had outrun or made a move on the corner and was behind the defense. Both times the ball was thrown off the mark. But as was the case many times at Bama, Falcons QB Matt Ryan found the best way to get Julio involved was to throw him a simple 5 yard pass, a dig route that shouldn't amount to more than 5 or 10 yards. Of course Julio put his foot in the grass, turned up field, and with more speed than anyone ever saw him display at Bama, was up the field for 20 yards before he could be tackled. He then caught another pass down the middle, where he had made the DB's look silly and was wide open for another 20 yards. On the next play, he took an end around handoff and rushed for 12 yards, and another first down. That was the end of the game for him, but even short lived, it was impressive.
One of the game's announcers, Charles Davis, said that tomorrow all the talk in Atlanta will be that Julio Jones is going to be in the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Indeed, it was hard not to agree that he was right away one of the best players on the team. Earlier this past week, just from watching him in practice, Peter King of Sports Illustrated said that Julio already looked like the Falcons best player. Sure fire Hall Of Famer, Tony Gonzales, said after the first practice that Julio is the best incoming receiver he has ever seen. He said that it's not even close.
Bama fans like me are about to really enjoy watching Julio make an instant and incredible impact on one of the already best teams in the NFL. It's not like he's going to be playing for a team where he will be the central focus of the opposing defense. The Falcons already have a Pro Bowl receiver in Roddy White. What in the hell are defenses going to do about this? They really won't be able to double cover either guy, cause it will leave the other in man to man. Which will be a dream for either White or Jones. My guess is that at first, teams will still focus on White, who is the proven star, and Julio will get plenty of one on one opportunities to shine. And when that happens, he is going to make defenses pay
On top of being really great with the ball in his hands, Julio is one of the best team guys I have ever seen. He and Mark Ingram were best friends while they were at Bama, and Julio made it seem at times like he enjoyed making a block and helping Mark score more than he enjoyed catching the ball or scoring his own touchdown. Julio is an all around exception to what you mostly see in top flight wideouts these days. Guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Chad Ochocino, who are all about themselves and think they should get the ball on every play. Julio is more like Larry Fitzgerald to me. Either way, I feel comfortable saying that we are going to have a great time watching him on Sundays for the next 15 years.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR, Y'ALL!!!
- Eric Blackerby
- My name is Eric. My love of and loyalty to the University of Alabama football team is unparalleled and completely inappropriate. I hate all other teams, and wish them peril. Also, you can hear my music at www.reverbnation.com/EricBlackerby or www.youtube.com/EricBlackerbyMusic