Terrence Jones – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Lutcher High School/Tulane University
A sensational quarterback at Lutcher High School, Terrence Jones led the Bulldogs to a 14-0 record and the 1983 Class 3-A state championship as he broke every quarterback record for the school as a junior. And then in 1984, he broke all of those records again as he was selected as a Parade All-American.
While Jones had big-time college scholarship offers, he opted to play for head coach Mack Brown at Tulane.
While setting nearly every Tulane single-game, season and career record in passing and total yardage during his career, Jones was on the national radar as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate as a senior in 1988.
“I was blessed to have a college scholarship,” Jones said. “Tulane obviously is a very good school, and I was excited about the chance to play in the system under Mack Brown and Greg Davis. While I had a great experience on the field, Tulane really helped open doors for me, and helped me make contacts off the field that probably would not have been available to me otherwise.”
While Jones enjoyed meeting new people, he relished introducing himself to everyone who lined up opposite him on the football field. Blessed with a strong right arm and nimble footwork, Jones left his mark as Tulane’s career leader in passing yardage (7,684), passing touchdowns (46), completions (570) and attempts (1,042) while accounting for a school-record 9,445 yards of total offense and averaging an eye-popping 5.8 yards per play. He finished his career sixth in the NCAA in career total offense, ranking just ahead of Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway.
“If you asked me who the best combination quarterback in the country was, it wouldn’t even be close,” famed Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden said of Jones during the 1987 season.
While Jones’ bid for a Heisman Trophy came up short, he was named All-American and was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards. In addition, Jones was named first-team All-South, and he was selected to play in the 1989 Senior Bowl where he would go on to earn South MVP honors.
“It was a good learning experience, but I was all about trying to help the team,” Jones said of the publicity he received. “It made a case for any student-athlete playing at a university that did not get major network coverage in football. But at the same time, I didn’t do it all by myself. I’ve always been one to understand my position as a quarterback, but it took more than just me for us to get the attention that we got there in the mid 80s.”
Following his college career, Jones was selected by San Diego in the seventh round of the 1989 NFL draft, but the Chargers wanted to move him to defensive back. Jones decided to turn down the Chargers’ offer and headed north for the Canadian Football League.
“Sure, I could have been like (former Southwestern Louisiana quarterback-turned NFL return man) Brian Mitchell, making a living returning punts, or I could have been a solid defensive back,” Jones said. “But, it was the principle of the thing – I wanted to play quarterback.
“I had played quarterback all the way back to my Pop Warner days. I love the NFL, grew up on the Dallas Cowboys, and still follow it closely. I am grateful that I was drafted, however. I respected their (Chargers’) decision, and I hope they respected me for mine.”
From there, Jones played a total of five seasons in the CFL – two with the Calgary Stampeders, two with the Ottawa Rough Riders and one with the Shreveport Pirates. Then, in 1995, Jones made a return trip to the NFL as a roster member of the New Orleans Saints during training camp. Then head coach Jim Mora informed Jones that while he had solid skills as a receiver, he was simply too old to learn the position at the age of 29. After his release, Jones walked away from the game.
“Football has been such a large part of my life, but I decided it was time to move on,” he said. “I enjoyed football. It was fun. But there are more important things at this point in my life that are more appealing to me. I always knew there were more important things in life.”
One of those important things was completing his degree and continuing his education. Jones graduated from Tulane in 1995 with a degree in physical education and completed his master’s degree in organizational management in 2014.
[Primary Story by Richie Weaver for Tulane Athletics, 2014]