Our pre-draft series continues with a look at a Pac-12 wideout who’s a man of many interests.
It doesn’t look like he’ll need one, but at least Marvin Jones has a backup plan: R&B singer.
A quick listen on YouTube
will reveal the Cal wide receiver also has some pipes to go along with soft hands.
But don’t look for Jones to drop a debut album any time soon. Not with the NFL Draft just three weeks away.
“There is no music career,” Jones said with a laugh at his March 14 pro day. “I’m worried about football right now. That’s my No. 1 goal – getting on a team and producing early. That’s my only focus. I’ll kick a little something every once in a while, but ultimately, I’m with the football thing. My nose is going to be in the playbooks, getting ready for this season.”
In 2011, Jones was a bit overshadowed by his teammate – and duet partner – wide receiver Keenan Allen. Since the end of the season, though, Jones has opened plenty of eyes in the NFL with a stellar Senior Bowl performance and a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.
In front of dozens of NFL personnel in Mobile, Ala., Jones first shined in Senior Bowl practice, displaying his ability to run crisp routes and be a threat in the vertical passing game. He followed that up by catching an eight-yard touchdown in the game itself, before running a 4.46-second, 40-yard dash in Indianapolis.
“At the Senior Bowl I answered a lot of questions that people had about my game and opened a lot of eyes,” Jones said. “That Senior Bowl was critical. Then I went to the combine and did what I always do – be consistent and catch the ball. I’m getting a lot of interest.”
Jones, who measured at 6-foot-2, 199 pounds at the combine, hauled in 62 catches for 846 yards and three touchdowns in 2011. His senior year was bookended by two of his best outings of the year, as he started with a seven-catch, 118-yard, two-touchdown performance against Fresno State and finished with an eight-catch, 88-yard effort against Texas in the Holiday Bowl.
The wideout said he owes much of his success to Cal coach Jeff Tedford, who has a proven track record of producing NFL players. For now, Jones and former teammates like Mychal Kendricks look poised to be among the latest crop of Cal alumni in the league, where 29 ex-Golden Bears like Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch and DeSean Jackson roam the fields.
“I think I’d fit in with any system,” Jones said. “Coming from Cal, we run a pro-style system so there’s a lot of stuff that we do that translates to the NFL.”
Since stepping foot on the Berkeley campus, Jones witnessed the birth of his two young children and gained some extra motivation to reach the NFL in the process. He’s also just two online classes away from earning his degree in African-American studies and expects to graduate this spring.
“I’ve appreciated everything I’ve gained here as an intellectual and as a football player,” Jones said. “It’s crazy. Time flies by fast. … In the blink of an eye I’m a father of two and everything’s going well.”
The 2012 NFL draft class looks stocked full of talented wide receivers like Jones. Most mock drafts have him pegged to be selected anywhere between the second and fourth rounds.
If he was to be picked by the 49ers, Jones would already have a sense of coach Jim Harbaugh, having played his Stanford teams three times in the Big Game.
“He’s hard-nosed,” Jones said of Harbaugh. “He’s a guy that’s not going to fabricate anything. His teams resembled him with hard-nosed football, running downhill football. That’s the perception I have of him.”
An NFL paycheck would also enable Jones to realize his other dream of starting a non-profit organization to benefit inner-city children.
After a long offseason of training in Phoenix with other NFL prospects like Michigan State wideout B.J. Cunningham and Boston College corner back Donnie Fletcher, Jones is just waiting to hear his name called. And there won’t be any fanfare or parties when Jones finally does realize his dream, as he plans on watching the draft at his Fontana, Calif., home with his mother.
“This whole process has been great,” Jones said. “I’ve definitely boosted my stock sky-high from where I was. It’s just a great experience and I’m blessed to be a part of this process.”