Hours passed since the cigar smoke clouded the air, especially around the student section, in Bryant-Denny Stadium to celebrate Alabama’s come-from-behind 19-14 victory over Tennessee.
Keith Kormanik was catching up with his former player when the table’s conversation was suddenly interrupted. An Alabama fan wanted to know if his old pupil would mind posing for a picture.
It wasn’t the first time it happened and it wouldn’t the final time it happened during dinner. At least Cyrus Jones’s salad couldn’t get much colder.
“He’d rather say hi and make an Alabama fan happy than worry about his dinner,” Kormanik said. “It’s just the kind of kid he is.”
Starting for the Crimson Tide comes with a certain celebrity status that seems to follow Jones wherever he goes, but he doesn’t mind – in fact, he welcomes it. He’s proud to be a part of such a prestigious program.
So if a fan asks Jones for a picture or an autograph, he’s quick to smile and quicker to agree. A cold dinner every now and then is a small price to pay – besides, he can always snatch one of Kormanik’s wings later anyway.
Time off, even in the offseason, is hard to come by for Alabama football players, but Jones finds time to make it home to see his family when he can. However, Jones might be home, but he is by no means sitting around his house relaxing.
“When he came home this summer, he participated with the kids in my workouts,” Kormanik said. “He certainly is a super humble young man, and he doesn’t forget where he came from.”
Jones just wants to give back to his former team at Gilman High School. Every time he makes it home to Maryland, he tries to find time to visit his alma mater to see if there is anything he can do for the football team.
“He wants to give back to the same community that was very inspirational in his success,” Jones’ mother Tomika Jones said. “It makes him excited when he can go back and hang out and workout with the younger kids.”
His mother said no one at the school ever asked her son to help the program in any fashion. They didn’t have to, for the same reason no one ever had to ask Jones to occasionally take reps with the scout team in high school. If there was a way he could help the team out, Jones was just going to do it.
He has always been one to shoulder responsibility. In high school, Gilman trailed with less than two minutes to go in the championship game. When Kormanik saw the punt headed for the end zone, he was prepared to watch his team attempt a quick drive in a high pressure situation.
Jones had other plans.
“They made the terrible mistake of punting the ball to Cyrus,” Kormanik said. “He actually took the ball from the 2-yard line. He did a 98-yard punt return to win the game and save our championship season.”
Sometimes it feels Jones never left. He certainly never stopped leading the team by example. One member of the team, his 15-year-old brother Khari, has some experience following Jones’ lead. When he’s not working out with the team, Jones calls and checks up on his brother on a regular basis.
For the high school assistant coach, the impact his former player continues to have on his team is very valuable.
“I could tell at that early age that he was just a special young man,” Kormanik said. “Cyrus Jones, in my 20 years at Gilman, is the most explosive, dynamic athlete I’ve ever been around.”
More than an athlete
For some, the offseason is a chance to get home and spend time with family, a nice breather before the next season begins. For others, it’s just another chance to get ahead.
Jones’ summer might be one of the most important times of the year. Not only is he able to push himself in the gym, but he also pushes himself academically as well.
This December, his efforts will finally pay off when he walks across the stage and collects his diploma.
“[Those summers] prepared him to graduate earlier than his normal schedule of summer of 2016,” his father Cyrus Jones Sr. said.
His father said his son has always valued his academic success. When he visits Gilman High, the importance of maintaining good grades is one of the two messages he shares with the kids on the football team.
His father said Jones has prepared to have success once his football career eventually comes to an end. Jones has considered taking several potential career paths. He’d like to stay involved with sports somehow, his father said, and has previously expressed interests in becoming a sports broadcaster.
The other advice Jones shares with the team is to have fun. That’s certainly something he tries to do when he is competing in Bryant-Denny Stadium, but Jones also finds enjoyment away from the football field.
Sometimes all he really needs to pass the time is some paper, some pencils and a little bit of space.
“Cyrus is very artistic,” Tomika said. “He definitely likes to draw and he does that in his free time.”
Her son found out he had a knack for art when he was younger, and it’s a hobby he maintains to this day. The Jones’ household in Maryland used to be filled with sketches and paintings, but at some point his success as an athlete seemed to overshadow his artistic accomplishments and paintings gave way to trophies and other hardware.
However, Jones’ career at Alabama hasn’t always been so easy to enjoy. When he first arrived on campus, he …read more
Source:: The Crimson White Sports