Greg Paulus is the golden boy. Mike Williams is the superstar. Doug Marrone is the big man. But Arthur Jones might end up being the guy who makes more noise then all of them this season. After a junior season in which he earn first-team All-Big East Conference honors and put on a defensive clinic against Notre Dame in front of national audience (15 tackles, 4 tackles and 1.5 sacks), Jones could have gone pro and no one would have argued. The program was in turnover, the head coach had been fired and there was no indication that 2009 would be any better than 2008. Not to mention the fact that he might very well have been first-round talent, if not close to it. Yet, he came back. Strange.
His journey almost took a detour into Why Didn't You Leave When You Had The Chance Jail when he tore his pectoral muscle in the off-season. Thankfully, he's just about healed up and he will be ready to go for the start of the season as the anchor and leader of this defense.
Think Jones is feeling good about things? You betcha. He told Donnie Webb as much during Big East Media Day:
"I'm excited," Jones said. "I feel healthier than ever. These are the best days of my life right now."
"I'm telling you, I feel better than before," Jones said. "I know people say (they have questions). I feel great. I feel great.
I wonder if he feels great.
What's Jones' technique for improving? It's certainly not killing himself in the weight room. It's just not his style:
"I'm just trying to put a bigger engine in my race car," he said. "The name of the game is being bigger, stronger, faster. But that [lifting lots of weights] is not really my style. I'm more of a slippery finesse guy who gets off blocks.
Of course another reason Jones might have stayed behind and something that will be a bonus for him this season is the chance to play alongside his baby brother Chandler. Dem Jones boys will both be lining up together as part the best-looking D-line in a while for the Orange:
"It's going to be amazing (playing next to him). It really hasn't hit me, yet. Maybe when I get out there on Monday (for the start of preseason camp) it'll hit me harder. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a good time. The whole D-Line is going to be a fun one. We're all a band of brothers. We're all together."
Check out the rest of that link from Donnie for Art's run-in with Dwight Freeney and how he's been spending his off-season.
The Fizz folks also spoke to Arthur at Big East Media Day and he sounds as excited as possible not only to get out on the field to do what he does best but also help the young guys get better in the process. There are worse things than to have a projected Top 5 NFL pick showing you how to get better.