One of the guys hanging around spring practice this month has been Brad Jones, one of last year's cornerbacks. Some of the Bearcats that haven't been taking the field with the Commandos in arena ball at The Gardens are prepping for the NFL Draft Extravaganza coming up.
Jones is not alone as other former Bearcats have made appearances like Mardy Gilyard and Mike Mickens. Mickens needs a job (Bengals released him) Gilyard is all but assured of a job (and wants to be a Bengal).
Brad Jones just wants a "look" and has been training at Ignition where Connor Barwin put in some hard hours last year, and at UC.
"I go up there a couple times a week," said Jones. "I'm just usually down in the weight room and on the field. Days they're out here with spring ball, I'm usually inside. If they're inside lifting, I'm usually out here working. I bounce back and forth from Ignition to out here."
Jones also isn't opposed to be being a Bengal and worked out at Paul Brown Stadium last week along with Tony Pike and Gilyard, plus Craig Carey, Alex Daniels and some others.
"I talked to Coach Lippencott and I got all squared away with directions to get there," said Jones. "I was there 7:30 April 13th."
A number of Bearcats went to a similar event last year and then later the Bengals invited other 'Cats down for try-outs. Sometimes situations like that are little more than a call for "live practice dummies" but you can't get seen if you're not there. Plus, Ryan Manalac eventually got a practice squad opportunity for his efforts (even though it wasn't here).
"He ended up at Buffalo on the practice squad, that's good money too," said Jones.
While Jones' Pro Day didn't put him "off the charts", he certainly was good enough to be there and among a number of Bearcats who were on display for numerous NFL teams about a month ago. His 40 time wasn't where he had hoped (officially) but it's still representative of a quality player.
"I'm hearing after the Pro Day I had that I improved my stock," said Jones. "Late shot/possible priority free-agent type of guy. I just want a shot, as long as I get a shot. It doesn't make any difference."
The 40 time in question was 4.53 which can go up or down depending on thumb quickness,etc.
"I don't know where that time came from, but even a 4.53 isn't a bad time," said Jones. "The times I had been running all week prior to Pro Day were high 4.3s to mid 4.4s so that's what I was expecting to get released publicly."
Still, Jones knows that sometimes it just comes down to playing football. The NFL is full of stories of the proverbial, "look like Tarzan, play like Jane" characters.
"They pass the 'eye test' but they don't play how they look," said Jones.
Brad Jones looks the part and hopes to play the part. He's finished his degree and points out that his resume includes an Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl and two Big East titles. Maybe it wasn't one of the most stellar defenses in college ball, but they had to have been doing a few things right.
"I played on a team that was 12-0, so obviously guys get overlooked, but anytime you're 12-0, guys have got to be able to play football," said Jones. "I understand that it was a great system we played in under Coach Kelly, but coaching only takes you so far. Guys have to go out there and make plays and be responsible."
Brad is one of several current and former Bearcats that keep up Twitter accounts, so perhaps in a week or so, he'll be Tweeting some good news.