Former East player continues improbable NFL story

Robert Jones will become the 15th player from Rockford Public Schools to suit up for a regular season NFL or AFL game, Jones found out today.

NFL teams announced their final cuts today and Jones, who was an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State, was one of nine offensive lineman kept by the Miami Dolphins.

To say that Jones’ rise is remarkable would be an understatement. Jones’ favorite sport was basketball growing up in Chicago. After moving to Rockford for his senior year, the coaching staff at East talked the nearly 6-5 Jones into playing football. He played eight games and helped the E-Rabs go 4-5.

With so little football experience, Jones had to continue his career at Highland Community College in Highland, Kansas. Jones developed enough there to land a scholarship to MTSU, a Conference USA school, where he was twice named honorable mention all-conference.

Jones had a decision to make at the end of the season. The NCAA allowed athletes last season to play without having it count toward their eligibility. Thousands of athletes took advantage of the rule. That list includes Harlem graduate Josh Black, who returned to Syracuse for a fifth season, and Auburn graduate Vederian Lowe, who returned to Illinois. Both Black and Lowe hope another season of college will improve their NFL chances.

Jones decided to give the NFL a chance this year. He was picked to play in the Senior Bowl. He did not play in the game, but he was able to work out individually for pro scouts.

With the Dolphins, Jones played every offensive snap of Miami’s final preseason game against Cincinnati in what amounted to a final audition. Now, he’ll be in uniform on Sunday when Miami opens against the New England Patriots.

Rockford Public Schools NFL/AFL Players
Player High School Pro Teams Games Played
Harry Englund Rockford Bears, 1921-1922 16
Laurie Walquist Rockford Bears, 1922-1931 111
Walt McGaw Rockford Packers, 1926 1
Rex Enright Rockford Packers, 1926-1927 19
Ray Marelli Rockford Cardinals, 1928 2
Leo Stasica Rockford Dodgers, 1941
Redskins, 1943
Yanks, 1944
Merwin Hodel West Giants, 1953 2
Jerry Stalcup East Rams, 1960
Broncos, 1961-1962
Marshall Starks West Jets, 1963-1964 18
Jerry Latin East Cardinals, 1975-1978
Rams, 1978
Ira Matthews East Raiders, 1978-1981 41
Leonard Bell Jefferson Bengals, 1987 1
Reggie Sims West Bengals, 1987 1
Carlos Polk Guilford Chargers, 2001-2007
Cowboys, 2008
Robert Jones East Dolphins, 2021 ?

Posted on 08.31.21