LOVES PARK (WREX) — Robert Jones never envisioned himself playing in the NFL. But he signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent after not hearing his name called over the weekend.
"I came a long way," Jones said while taking a break from a Tuesday morning workout at Mercyhealth Top Performers. "I never thought I'd be in this position. Growing up in Chicago, it's just rough. I know I'm motivation to a lot of people out there and a lot of people in Rockford, also. I just want to keep being that role model to a lot of people and show that no matter what you go through, a little perseverance can take you so far."
Jones moved from Chicago to Rockford his senior year of high school, playing 8 games for the E-Rabs before signing to play at Highland Community College in Kansas. From there, he went on to become a starter at Middle Tennessee State, eventually landing a spot in the Senior Bowl this past season. He knows he still faces an uphill battle to make the Dolphins, but his potential to grow as an offensive lineman is limitless.
"[I'm] working on my mobility, flexibility and little things," he said. "And it's really all mental. Just keep getting the knowledge of the game. As I keep getting reps and I keep learning the game of football, that's going to take me a long way."
East head coach Gary Griffin took a chance on Jones, and never stopped believing in him.
"You don't get a lot of people who come out of East who get that opportunity," Jones said of representing the E-Rabs. "For me, it's just an honor. I go up there and talk to everybody and see everybody. Everybody is just as surprised as me, except for coach Griffin. Coach Griffin believed I could do it from the beginning.
"He just saw a person who never really played football but who had a natural ability to be a dog. He put me out there and the rest is history."
He's looking to use that dog in him to go from underdog to top dog.
"I've been an underdog all my life," Jones said. "I know I'm going to be an underdog coming in. I'm going to keep that chip on my shoulder and take everything by storm. Go out there focused and not try to joke around, because at the end of the day I'm trying to take somebody's job."
Jones hopes to make some history as the next Rockford athlete to make it to the pros. He may not have envisioned it in his younger days, but Jones has the goal in sight and is ready to do whatever it takes to achieve it.