Friday, Sep 9 at 12:46 PM
Judson senior running back Quaylon Jones is one of the best high school football players in the region, but it’s what he does off the field that sets him apart from so many of his peers.
By the time he dons the pads for practice or plays in a game, Jones has coped with daily challenges that most people his age don’t have to worry about.
“He’s a special athlete and a special person, too,” Judson coach Jim Rackley said. “He has to do so many things at home before he plays the game of football.”
Raised by his mother, a diabetic who has been confined to a nursing home for the past 10 months, Jones has had to grow up in a hurry while she struggles with her illness.
Jones lives with his oldest brother, Shane, but for all intents and purposes, he’s has had to fend for himself since his mother’s health started failing. Theresa Jones, who turned 45 on Wednesday, already has lost a toe to diabetes and is recovering from her fourth back surgery.
Besides going to school and playing football, Quaylon works about 30 hours a week as a cook at the Sonic Drive-In down the street from Judson High School. He works several nights a week after practice and on weekends.
“Quaylon says I inspire him, but the truth is, he inspires me,” Theresa Jones said. “I am so proud of him, not just for what he’s done as a football player, but for the way he’s handled everything since I got sick. He’s never felt sorry for himself or made excuses.
“As good as he is on the football field, he never brags or tries to bring attention to himself. He’s stayed humble and hasn’t gotten the big head.”
Jones couldn’t visit his mother on her birthday because he had to work Wednesday night, but he called her early in the day.
“I wish I could have seen her, but she knows I have to work,” he said. “I go by the nursing home to see her whenever I can.”
Jones setting torrid pace
Jones, who is only 5-foot-5 and weighs 168 pounds, already has rushed for nearly 400 yards and scored seven touchdowns in only two games.
Although she’s unable to walk because of her back problems, Theresa Jones still goes to Judson football games and cheers on the youngest of her four children.
She watched Quaylon rush for 190 yards on only 13 carries in the Rockets’ 49-0 rout of MacArthur in their season opener Aug. 26, and plans to be at Judson’s game against rival Roosevelt on Saturday night at Heroes Stadium.
“I got so excited when I saw him play in that first game that I thought I was going to get up from my wheelchair and walk,” Theresa said, chuckling. “I love watching him play.”
Jones rushed for 194 yards on 20 carries and scored three TDs as the Rockets improved to 2-0 with a 21-14 victory against Leander last week.
“Quaylon is our team leader,” Rackley said. “He has that personality of confidence and authority. He’ll stand up in front of his teammates and tell them how the cow ate the cabbage, and they respond to him.
“There’s just something about him that is special and different. Athletically speaking, I haven’t seen too many people like him, except for Jerod Douglas. When you think of Chris Pryor, you think of power combined with speed.”
Douglas and Pryor, both prolific running backs, helped lead Judson to state championships. Pryor was the main offensive force on the Rockets’ first title team in 1983, and Douglas played on the 1992 and 1993 championship teams.
Jones from same mold as Jerod Douglas
“When you think of Jerod Douglas, you think of that elusiveness and vision,” Rackley said. “It was hard to get a hit on him. Quaylon is more like Jerod. He has that ability to make the defensive people miss.
“He rarely takes a big hit, but at the end of his run when he’s in traffic, he’ll lower his pads and finish strong. Quaylon has that deceptive speed and elusiveness and the ability to keep going to the goal line.”
Jones responded with his characteristic humility when asked about the comparisons with Pryor and Douglas, two of the best running backs in Greater San Antonio history.
“I just want to be remembered as a guy who tried to do the right thing and always put his team first,” Jones said.
Rackley eyes got misty when told of the legacy his star player would like to leave at Judson.
“That’s Quaylon,” he said. “That’s what you expect to hear from him.”
Jones rushed for 1,562 yards and 17 TDs last year, when Judson finished 7-5 after falling in the second round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
Jones also plays basketball at Judson
The Rockets are expected to challenge defending 5A Division II state champion Steele for the District 25-5A title this season. The Knights edged Judson 25-24 in double overtime last year, with quarterback Tommy Armstrong scoring the game-winner on a two-point conversion.
Jones’ father is Jimmy Williams, who played football at Jefferson and graduated in the late 1980s. Jones is also a starting point guard for the Judson basketball team.
“He’s a multisport guy,” basketball coach Mike Wacker said. “In 2011 at a big 5A school in the state of Texas, that’s rare. But Quaylon is just a tremendous leader and point guard.”
While Jones said winning another football state championship for Judson is his ultimate team goal on the football field, he would trade that for something far more important.
“If I had one wish, it would be to see my mother walk again and leave the nursing home,” he said.
Sitting in her wheelchair a few feet away, Theresa Jones blinked back tears as she gazed at her son.
She didn’t have to say anything. The glow on her face said it all.