Coming off a season in which he averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds for St. Mary’s, Rob Jones made it clear that he won’t be trading the hardwood for the gridiron. He declined an offer from the Minnesota Vikings to attend the team’s rookie mini-camp.
“I wanted to see where I can go with basketball first,” said Jones, 23, told CSNBayArea. “Two or three years from now, if I’m not where I want to be with basketball, I can still have that option.
“Football is intriguing, but it’s really a decision I made five years ago.”
The 6-6, 237-pounds Jones certainly has the body to perhaps work his way into the NFL, but he says basketball remains his focus.
At Archbishop Riordan High in San Francisco in 2006, Jones caught 33 passes for 499 yards and seven touchdowns.
Jones reportedly considered playing both football and basketball in college at the University of San Diego. He met with then-coach Jim Harbaugh at San Diego, before Harbaugh moved on to Stanford.
There is a history of large-bodied basketball players taking a shot or succeeding in the NFL. Antonio Gates went from playing basketball at Kent State to being one of the NFL’s best tight ends. New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham played hoops at Miami.
“I played against Jimmy Graham my sophomore year; I’ve guarded him,” Jones said in the same interview. “It’s really cool that those guys had that opportunity to play football. It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind, too. But it’s really my third option.”
His football prospects were moved to the back burner after transferring to St. Mary’s, which does not have a football team.
This past season, Jones helped to lead the Gaels to the NCAA tournament, finishing with a record of 27-6 and losing to Purdue in the Round of 64.