Velus Jones Jr. elected to forgo his final year of eligibility at USC and use that year to find a new home. That decision led Jones to Tennessee, where he grad transferred and is now expected to be an important piece not only in UT’s wide receiver room, but also on special teams.
So why did Jones transfer out of USC, and what is he expecting from his upcoming season with the Vols? The veteran wideout detailed all that and more in his first vlog entry on Youtube this week.
Jones has started a Youtube channel, and with the permission of UT’s athletic department, will be giving fans an inside look at what it’s like to be a football student-athlete at Tennessee. In his first vlog entry, Jones brought up why his decision to leave the Trojans wasn’t the end of his journey and why he’s optimistic the 2020 season will be a good one for him at Tennessee while also showing fans some shots of practice and the behind-the-scenes work that goes into being a student-athlete.
“Some things don’t work out, but just because they don’t work out doesn’t mean that’s the end of the road,” Jones explained. “A door closes and another one opens. Me, I’m a firm believer in Christ, so I believe my life is already written, my story. I’m just reading a book, and the book is my life.”
The 6-foot, 190-pound wideout spent four years at USC and was used primarily as a kick returner. He nearly transferred after the 2018 season but ultimately elected to come back to USC in 2019 to try and carve out a role as a more prominent member of the Trojans’ wide receiver corps.
That never came to fruition, however, as he caught just six passes for 35 yards last season.
Jones’ best year as a wide receiver at USC came when current Tennessee wide receivers coach Tee Martin was the offensive coordinator with the Trojans in 2018. Jones hauled in 24 receptions for 266 yards and his first receiving touchdown while also carrying the ball six times for 13 yards and scoring his first rushing touchdown of his career.
As a recruit, Jones was a high-level three-star out of Saraland, Alabama in the 2016 class, but his career at USC did not go as planned.
“I can definitely say that my time at the University of Southern California, it tested my faith, my love for the game, and I took some great things from it,” Jones explained. “One of the things I took from it is that you cannot control things that you have no control over. So me, I just gave it all to God.
“I know that there is a plan for me, and me working my tail off will get me to where I need to go. I have dreams of pursuing the NFL. But I’m not just gonna sit here and say my whole experience at USC didn’t go so well. I stayed and got my social science degree. USC is my alma mater, and I was just grateful.”
One area Jones consistently excelled at was as a kick returner. He returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown in 2019 and averaged just over 24 yards per return on a whopping 81 kick returns in his career at USC.
Because of that, Jones earned Second Team All-Pac 12 honors as a returner in 2018. Heading into his first and only season at Tennessee, Jones is again expected to be an all-conference player, earning Third Team All-SEC honors as a returner by Athlon earlier this month.
“Now that I’m at the University of Tennessee, I’ve been selected for preseason All-SEC,” Jones said. “It’s preseason, and it’s a prediction, but it means a lot to me because I’ve been playing football since I was four years old. It just feels good to know that the work you’ve been putting in your whole life has been not going unnoticed.”
With Tennessee looking to replace the production of Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway at the wide receiver position and really only having the experience of Josh Palmer and Brandon Johnson to lean on, Jones has a valuable opportunity to finally show what he can do beyond just as a return man.
And Jones is very confident he’ll cap off his college career with a great season.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m going to have an amazing football season and to be able to pursue my dreams of playing in the NFL,” Jones claimed. “I’m working my tail off.”
You can watch Jones’ full vlog below: