By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
Aaron Jones’ fate may have been sealed the first time he played football, all the way back when he was five years old playing in the El Paso, Texas City League.
He was a Packer then. And after the 2017 NFL Draft, he’s a Packer again.
Green Bay made the all-time leading rusher at the University of Texas-El Paso their fifth-round Draft pick. And the 5-9 1/2, 209-pound Jones, who had a 40-plus yard run in eight different games last fall, could be the spark out of the backfield the Packers need.
“Yeah, I was a Packer the first time I ever played football, my first football team was the Packers,’’ Jones said with a laugh. “That’s crazy, right? It all comes around, though. Yeah, maybe it was meant to be.’’
Growing up in El Paso, with his twin brother Alvin, currently a linebacker at UTEP, the Joneses were Cowboys’ fans, because, well, most everyone in Texas is a Cowboys fan.
Now, he’s a Packers’ fan again.
“Yes, I am,’’ Jones said.
After gaining 1,773 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns last year at UTEP to finish his career with a school record 4,144 yards and 33 touchdowns, Jones wasn’t sure where he would land in the NFL. He did know the Packers had some interest.
“They met with me at the Combine,’’ he said. “And they had a scout at my last college game. And then came to my Pro Day. So, I knew they had some interest, but you never know.’’
Not until he got the call, that Saturday afternoon, the third day of the draft.
“There’s a lot of excitement, not knowing where you’re going to end up,’’ Jones said. “You could end up in 32 different places. And there’s the wait; it’s a long wait. So, when the draft finally got here, I was excited.
“The first night I watched, but I knew I wasn’t going in the first round. I saw some friends go, and texted them congratulations. The second day, I thought maybe, but I kind of knew for sure I would go the third day. But it was still nerve-wracking. I kept seeing backs go off the board and kept saying ‘I got to be next, I got to be next.’ As soon as the Packers called they asked me how would I like to be a Green Bay Packer. I said, ‘I love it.’ The weight was lifted off me. I knew where I was going and I was going to a great team, a team everyone loves, a great fan base, a contender every year.’’
While Jones is away from his twin for the first time — “That’s why we both went to UTEP. That was the one school, who wanted both of us. We’ve always been together. That was our goal since we were little kids to play ball together. This is the first time we’ve ever been apart for more than a day, or two.’’ — he does have a good friend on the Packers.
Jamaal Williams, the Packers’ fourth-round pick, a running back out of BYU, and Jones became friends as they both awaited the Draft. Now, they’re teammates and in the same backfield.
“We have the same agent (Leigh Steinberg),’’ Jones said of he and Williams. “We met at a Super Bowl event, kept in touch, then again at the Combine and hung out there. When I saw the Packers drafted him, I was happy for him, and then when they drafted me I texted him and said, ‘It looks like we’re teammates, now.’’’
The two friends could be nice complements in the Packers backfield. Williams, BYU’s all-time leading rusher, is a between-the-tackles power back. Jones is a home-run hitter, who is also an excellent receiver.
Another back, the Packers’ veteran, third-year man Ty Montgomery, has been an early help for the young guys.
“I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t ask anyone before I got here,’’ Jones said of his first impression of the NFL. “I’m just taking it day by day. I’m learning the offense and Ty Montgomery has been a big help with that.’’