Barrett Jones has already done just about anything that can be accomplished by a student-athlete at The University of Alabama. He has been an All-America (and actually more than that as the winner of the Outland Trophy given to the nation’s best lineman) and he has earned his degree (and more than just being graduated, he did so with a perfect 4.0 grade point average in accounting, and has gone to work on his master’s degree).
Jones has also given much of himself outside The University, from tornado relief in Tuscaloosa to mission trips abroad to Haiti (twice) and Nicaragua to hospital visits. In another example in that spirit, Jones showed up at a special place in Garland Hall on campus Wednesday.
Crossing Points is a service of The University for students 18-21 with minor disabilities. Crossing Points teaches them pertinent working skills so that they can transition into the work force. The students are paired with Alabama students as they learn such things as social skills. Monday-Thursday they are go to various job sites, some on campus.
Allstate Insurance, in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Association, selects an Allstate Good Works Team of outstanding college football players who are successful off the field in academics and community service, as well as on the field. Barrett Jones was one of 117 players across the nation nominated for the team.
On Wednesday, Jones was to speak to Crossing Points students, and it was viewed as an opportunity for the Tide senior to receive recognition for his selection to the Allstate Good Works Team. Jay Barker, Alabama quarterback on the 1992 national championship team and an Allstate agent (as well as Birmingham radio personality), was a surprise (to Jones) visitor at the event to make the presentation to Jones.
Jones may not have been prepared for the surprise presentation, but he was certainly prepared to address the students of Crossing Points. They were ready for him, too. As he made his way into the classroom, one of the students pushed a button on an I-Pod and the “Yea, Alabama!” fight song played, sung by the students and by Jones. The students also had their crimson and white shakers in hand.
After thanking the students for the welcome, Jones talked to the students about adversity, which they have had. “It’s how you react when things don’t go right,” Jones said. He said that in life, bad things were going to happen. He cited Alabama’s loss last year to LSU during regular season play, and said that Alabama players decided to fight back and not give into adversity.
“And where did we finish, one or two?” he asked the students, who replied with a gleeful “One!”
Jones said that he relied on his faith when facing adversity.
Barker, who had a tough act to follow – Big Al entered the room in front of him, resulting in the biggest cheer from the students – said that Jones “represents all that is good in college football. I am so proud of him.”
The ceremony ended with students holding up the poster signs they had made in support of Alabama football.
Following practice Tuesday, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was asked to comment on Jones. He said, “I've said this many times, and maybe I can't say it as well each time. Barrett Jones is probably as fine a person, in terms of his leadership, his example that he sets, the willingness that he has to serve other people with his time, in terms of all the things he's done to help other people.
“He's one of the best students I've ever had the opportunity to coach, relative to his grade point average and how successfully he is academically.
“As a football player, I don't know I've been around, maybe one other guy that can play every position on the offensive line and do it efficiently and effectively and win awards for all of those and still be as good of a person, as humble of a person, have as much humility as you could ever ask anyone and be very thoughtful of others.
“Just not very many people like him. He's special.”