By Justin Whitaker
— Saturday was a dream come true for 2009 BHS graduate Chris Jones.
The 2012 Mid-American Conference’s defensive player of the year out of Bowling Green was selected by the Houston Texans with the 198th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
“Houston is a great place and it’s a great opportunity,” Jones said. “I’ve never been to Texas so I’m excited about that. Just hearing about the organization and how they do things there is great too.”
The 6-foot-2, 302-pound defensive tackle became the second player in Hendricks County history and the first Brownsburg player to be drafted in the NFL.
“We are extremely proud of him,” Brownsburg football coach Brett Comer said. “I’m happy for his family and for him, just like we were when he got a scholarship. He saved them thousands of dollars because he was able to play and now he’s going to make a couple dollars. But we are extremely proud, we couldn’t be more happy for the kid.”
Jones spent time at the combine with the Texans’ defensive line coach and Saturday received a security call from Houston earlier to make sure they had his contact information correctly.
As he was watching the draft, he saw Houston was next on the screen to draft and his phone went off much like it had been all day — it wasn’t a typical call though.
“My phone started going off but I was getting calls and texts every day so I thought it was just another person,” Jones said. “I looked at it and it said Houston, Texas, and I looked up at the screen and it said Houston so I thought, ‘No way.’ I picked it up and I answered it and it was one of the d-line coaches and he told me they were drafting me.”
He got around 10 phone calls and nearly 100 texts congratulating him on being drafted. Jones celebrated with family and friends at Bowling Green after he was selected before doing what typical college students do on weekends.
“I went and got some Taco Bell and hung out with my friends,” Jones said.
Jones said people inside Taco Bell first noticed his girlfriend before he started taking photos with those who recognized him. He attacked the menu like a NFL lineman would be expected.
“I’ve actually been experimenting with what I can do,” he said. “I’ll get like a chili cheese burrito and put like lava sauce on it from like a volcano burrito. But I always get a chicken quesadilla. That never wavers.”
The humble and soft-spoken Jones had his life change forever Saturday, yet it hasn’t sunk it yet. He leaves for Houston on May 9 and that’s when he thinks he’s going to feel like an NFL player.
“I’m still in school so I feel like a student still,” Jones said. “I think it will really hit me when I fly down to Houston and see all those guys and see the facility.”
Houston went 12-4 last season and won the AFC South, a division they share with the Indianapolis Colts. The Texans’ defense is guided by defensive guru Wade Phillips who runs an attacking 3-4 that is slightly different than other 3-4 defenses and a better fit for Jones.
“They drafted me for just taking up one gap so their nose is offset,” he said. “But he’s a defensive genius. I know he’ll find a way to use whatever player he has.”
Houston’s defensive roster also has future Hall of Famer Ed Reed, 2012 NFL defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, 2009 NFL rookie of the year Brian Cushing and 2012 Pro Bowlers Antonio Smith and Johnathan Joseph. Jones expects to be a sponge with so many talented players already on the team.
“It’s awesome to be able to have the opportunity to learn from such great guys that have done a lot for the game and are very good at what they do,” he said.
Houston General Manager Rick Smith was asked by the Houston Chronicle to name a player to keep an eye on who was picked after the first three rounds.
“I really liked him,” Smith said. “I think when he comes in the building, just the way that he approaches the game and the kind of make up that he has, I think it’s going to be very hard to keep him off the field because he just plays relentlessly, and is very productive.”
Jones said he was flattered to hear his general manager talk about him like that.
“They drafted me for a reason,” he said. “I’m going to go there and show them that they didn’t waste a draft pick, that they got more than what they were banking on. But that’s great to see that they think highly of me and it definitely gives me more motivation to show them more.”
Once Jones signs his contract and gets his first paycheck, he’s going to get a car because he doesn’t have one of his own, a place to live, and most randomly, a Tempur-Pedic mattress.
“I need to have great nights of sleep,” Jones laughed. “That’s one thing I know, after long days of working out and stuff I want to come back to a comfortable bed and be able to sleep.”
Brownsburg has had alumni drafted in the MLB (Lance Lynn, Tucker Barnhart, Drew Storen), MLS (Chris Estridge) and NBA (Gordon Hayward) and now Jones completes the men’s professional sports circle with the NFL.
‘To be the first guy drafted in the NFL from there is a huge accomplishment. I feel very blessed,” he said. “To be in the same category as like Gordon Hayward and like all the other guys who got drafted from Brownsburg. Brownsburg is a great school, a great program and great people come from there.”
There were a lot of people who helped and supported Jones from Brownsburg to Bowling Green and now Houston. He mentioned his family — Jeff (father), Beth (mother), Jenna (sister) and Jordan (brother) — as instrumental along the way. Jones was also thankful for his coaches at Brownsburg and mentioned especially Comer, Bryan Neese, Justin Pelley, Josh Yoder and Jason Wilburn.
“They did a lot for me when I was there and they were supporting me through all of this and they are a bunch of great guys,” Jones said.
Jones also gave credit to his faith for helping him along the way.
“I’ve got to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ just for having this opportunity,” Jones said. “Without him, honestly none of this that I’ve been able to do here at Bowling Green or at Brownsburg would have been possible.”
Comer said he plans on buying a Houston Texans T-shirt and hat to support Jones and looks forward to watching his first former player play on Sundays.
“He’ll be an inspiration to a lot of kids around here,” he said. “I’m sure Chris will come back and I’ve already told Chris when he comes back to make sure to see us. We’ll have him come in and speak and continue to inspire kids.”