With the sixth pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected WR Julio Jones who quickly became a top target for QB Matt Ryan and a leader on the Falcons offense.
One of the many great sights on NFL game days is watching countless Falcons fans fill the Georgia Dome, as well as away stadiums, wearing the jersey of their favorite player. Some players have a specific purpose and/or significance for choosing their jersey number, while others like Falcons WR Julio Jones were simply given a few choices of numbers to pick from and went with it, planning to make their number memorable for reasons both on the field and away from it:
Jones has been making the most of his God-given talent from a very early age, later recognized nationally in his senior year at Foley High School (Ala.), wearing jersey No. 8 for head coach Todd Watson. He caught 68 passes for 1,181 yards (17.37 avg.) with 16 touchdowns, leading the Lions to a 12-1 overall record, a Region 2 title and an appearance in the state quarterfinals. Jones was later named "Mr. Football" and Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Alabama.
A lot of the great professional athletes are recognizable with just a single name, such as "Dominique" (former Atlanta Hawks forward, Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins), or "Chipper" (former Atlanta Braves All-Star Larry Jones, Jr.); Julio (whose given name is Quintorris Jones) is no different.
Crediting his mother, Queen Marvin, as the most influential person in his life, Jones would move on to the University of Alabama, making her proud, playing 40-career games for the Crimson Tide, catching 179 passes for 2,653 yards with 15 touchdowns; he accumulated 3,084 all-purpose yards.
When the Falcons selected Jones with the sixth-overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the team's communications manager, Brian Cearns, told him which jersey numbers were left to pick from and he chose No. 11 for no specific reason; since that day, Jones has been putting up exemplary numbers on the field, including his league-leading 40 receptions in 2014, as well as off of it:
- Jones participated as a celebrity waiter for the 4th annual Huddle Up for Miracles hosted by Head Coach Mike Smith at 103 West in Atlanta to benefit Children's Miracle Network.
- In 2011, Jones was a participant in the Atlanta Falcons Rookie Club, sponsored by UnitedHealthcare of Georgia, maximizing the opportunities to take part in several charitable events.
- Jones joined other NFL football players in 2013 to meet with members of the Warrior Transition Battalion at the USAA NFL sponsored event, signing autographs for the soldiers in appreciation for what they do for our country. "That event was so impactful, because it gave me an opportunity to praise those guys that go out there and fight for our country every day," Jones said. "A big part of what's so great about America is the men and women who sacrifice daily, so we can live our lives and feel safe."
Just as Jones appreciates our country's brave servicemen and women, he's also grateful for today's youth, reminded daily as he sees them wearing his No. 11 jersey.
"I'm trying to impact the youth," Jones said. "I try to lead by example, always keeping my nose clean and staying out of trouble, because I know kids are looking up to me; I want to be the best example I can be for them."