The Allstate Sugar Bowl Believes in Champions
Champions have long defined the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The list of Hall of Fame athletes who have competed in the annual contest is staggering. But the list of champions extends well past the football game. Since its inception in 1934, the Allstate Sugar Bowl has given opportunities to young athletes in many amateur sporting events.
In late 2016, the Allstate Sugar Bowl published stories on five athletes who competed in Sugar Bowl events and then went on to excellence after their New Orleans’ experiences.
Feature No. 1: Derek Wolfe, Football
Feature No. 2: Bob Cousy, Basketball
Feature No. 3: Patrick Mullins, Soccer
Feature No. 4: Jemima Jelaget Sumgong, Road Racing
Feature No. 5: Janice Davis, Track & Field
This was followed by four additional stories in the fall of 2017.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl Believes in Champions – Julio Jones
Julio Jones is in the midst of a Pro Football Hall of Fame career and could eventually go down as one of the greatest NFL receivers to play the game. The Atlanta Falcons wideout, 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, is playing in his seventh NFL season and, headed into 2017, he had 7,610 career yards on 486 receptions with 40 touchdowns.
Included in that was his 2015 season when he latched onto 136 catches for 1,871 yards and eight touchdowns. The yards receiving was the second-best season in NFL history.
But Julio Jones the Olympian? Well, if not for football, it may have happened.
Jones was certainly a standout in football at Foley High School in Foley, Ala. He was one of the nation’s most prized wide receiver recruits in 2008 when he signed with Alabama. Jones played with the Crimson Tide for three seasons before being taken with the sixth pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Falcons.
In addition to being a standout prep football player, Jones was a star basketball player for Foley as well as an outstanding track athlete. In fact, Jones claimed three individual championships competing in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Track & Field Classic. Jones won the long jump competition in 2006 (21 feet, 10.5 inches) as a sophomore and in 2008 (23-1) as a senior. He also claimed the triple jump title in ’06 (45-7.25).
Jones was honored as Mr. Alabama in track and field and was the Alabama Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2007 as a junior.
“He was an amazing athlete,’’ Jones high school track coach D.D. Andersen told flotrack.org. “I think his strength was his top attribute. The power he had. When he had to jump and catch, or get away from a defender, those were the same skills he was honing on the track in the high jump or in the long jump. That explosion was everywhere.’’
Jones was one of the many elite track and field athletes to visit Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans for the Allstate Sugar Bowl meet.
“Since coming on board in 1996 as the sponsor, the Sugar Bowl has made it possible to transform what was once a modest local event into one of the premiere high school track and field meets in the country,” said meet director Mike Corn. “The Allstate Sugar Bowl Track and Field Classic has become a fixture on the schedule of many teams from throughout the South and continues to generate greater and greater interest nationwide.
“I think that the Sugar Bowl Committee recognized some time ago that high school sports are vital to our community and they have made a financial commitment to student athletes who take part in those sports, providing them with opportunities to compete in first class events that most probably would not have otherwise.”
Jones’ appearance in the Sugar Bowl track event wasn’t the only time he competed in New Orleans. As a freshman at Alabama, he played in the 75th Sugar Bowl event where the Crimson Tide fell to Utah, 31-17. Jones had seven catches for 77 yards in that game.
Now he’s starring in the NFL. But Jones said he wants to make more of an impact off the field than on. He participates in many charitable events and is working on a $200 million mixed-use project in Buford, Ga., near the Mall of Georgia.
“This (development) is more about creating something, creating jobs,’’ Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “These kids will have something to do. When I had a house in the Buford area, I saw a lot of kids just walking around in the mall who had absolutely nothing else to do. There’s so much more you can do.
“I’m trying to impact the youth. 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.”
“The Allstate Sugar Bowl Track and Field Classic is just one of many events our organization is proud to host,’’ Allstate Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan said. “Though football is our headline event, the Sugar Bowl is proud to have sponsored so many other competitions that have brought scores of exceptional athletes through the years. Sometimes we see great competitors like Julio Jones pass through in more than one sport.’’
From its earliest years, the Sugar Bowl Committee has been honored to provide opportunities for young athletes from around the country, athletes like Julio Jones. That’s because, at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, We Believe in Champions.
– Story by Trey Iles