Making the Switch
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
August 31, 2004 - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats' theme this season is "Me to We," symbolizing individual commitment to the team concept.
No one embodies that motto more than senior Tremayne Jones, a three-year varsity letterman.
Jones has gone from heir-apparent to the Wildcats' quarterback position to starting defensive end. He's not only taken the switch in stride, he's prospering.
The 6-2, 235-pounder is being eyed by some Division I and Division II colleges as a defensive player, most likely a linebacker because of his athletic skill. Along with his ability to play multiple positions, he's also a multi-sport athlete, excelling in basketball as well.
"Tremayne is one of our better seniors. His leadership ability is good, his athletic ability is good," SSHS head coach Brad Turner said. "He's very athletic - he's played quarterback, he's played wide receiver.
"I think his biggest asset right now is his attitude. His attitude in changing from offense to defense has been great. In the spring, we had all the recruiters come through, and a lot of them really liked him as a linebacker and a defensive player. Some of them like him as a linebacker, but we have not been able to stand him up because he's too valuable right now to us on the defensive line."
In the opening game, Jones got in on six tackles from the right end spot, and Turner considers him the most athletic defensive lineman on the roster.
It was his athleticism that led coaches to move him from offense to the defensive side of the ball.
Jones, the grandson of Frances and Ira Thomas, got his first taste of varsity action as a sophomore in 2002 when Sulphur Springs tangled with Highland Park in bi-district. When starting quarterback Ryan Henry left the game with a concussion, Jones stepped into the biggest game of the season.
He made quite an impression. Last season, he accounted for over 300 yards of total offense, throwing for 156 yards on 13-of-17 passes, rushing for 136 yards and four TDs, and catching five passes for 32 yards.
But when it came time to divvy up offensive and defensive players, Jones' name was high on the list of current Wildcats to replace nine defensive starters from last season.
"Looking at who we had - we lost so many good players on defense - and when we first started, we sat down and tried to put our best athletes on defense, and his name was one of the first ones to come up," Turner said. "We knew it would be extremely hard to play defensive end or linebacker and quarterback, too.
"For us to be a good football team we've got to great on defense. Without him, we're not great on defense, so we just had to have him over there."
The affable Jones, who Turner sometimes calls "Coach Mayne" because of his leadership qualities, said it was an adjustment, but one he doesn't have a problem with. His wants to be a football coach and algebra teacher, so he knows the dynamics of the game.
"They just asked me if I wanted to play defense" Jones said. "They explained the situation. We needed help on the defense because we were losing all those players, and I would help the team more on defense than I would on offense.
"I like it. It's not the same as quarterback, but I like it. I'll play anything. Anywhere they'll put me, that's where I'll play."
But, he has had to redo his mindset.
"Yeah, it took an adjustment because I had been playing quarterback for so long that I wasn't as aggressive" he explained. "On defense, you've got to be more aggressive. Now I've got to get that attitude to attack people instead of laying back and being composed like I was at quarterback."
His teammates see that side of him. Coach Turner said he has the natural disposition to succeed on defense. College recruiters believe he has the talent.
"I would see Tremayne playing on Saturdays on that side of the ball," Turner said. "He has a defensive mentality. He's fiery and emotional, and he just does a great job."