Sometimes you just know when there is a future NFL player in your presence. Back in 2000, the Bryant Hornets were preparing to play the Camden Fairview Cardinals at Hornet Stadium and future NFL pro-bowler Shawn Andrews played for the Cardinals
“I remember watching Shawn on film and he would just manhandle people from the nose guard spot, almost taking the snap from the quarterback each play,” Bryant coach Paul Calley said. “We were getting ready to double and triple team him. When they started warming up, Shawn was in street clothes, and my center was jumping around and shouting he’s hurt ,he’s hurt. I’ve never had a player so relieved!”
Shawn demonstrated on the high school field that he was destined for greatness. Of course, he later started as a freshman for the Arkansas Razorbacks and earned All-American honors in 2003. In the NFL he played in three pro-bowls while a member of the Philadelphia Eagles (2005-2007).
Barrett Jones is a three year starter for Alabama, and he demonstrated that same potential that Andrews did in high school. Actually he played for my old high school, Evangelical Christian School (ECS) in Memphis. My father attended several of his high school games and told me that he was the highest recruited player in ECS’s history.
Recently there have been several Southeastern Conference schools after the football players at ECS. The real truth is they all belong to the Jones family. Barrett is a fourth-year junior at Alabama, Harrison is a second-year freshman at Alabama and their little brother, Walker, is a junior on the ECS Eagle football team.
The Associated Press reported on Sept. 21 that Heisman candidate tailback Trent Richardson says he likes it when Jones is his lead blocker and tells coaches to just run it to wherever Jones is lined up. Did you hear that Bobby Petrino? I am trying to give you some inside information on the upcoming game!!! (I am sure the coaches already know that.)
Will the NFL be in Barrett’s future? Most people think so, but that is not what Barrett talks about a lot. He has used his time off the last few years to minister to the earthquake victims of Haiti.
In his first trip to Haiti in 2010 he rode across Haiti in a landscaping truck with no suspension on a seven-hour journey over dirt paths that pass for roads.
Just six days before, he was standing in the White House in his Sunday best, with the rest of his Crimson Tide teammates, meeting President Barack Obama and listening to him say “Roll Tide!” The next week Jones was in Haiti doing missionary work aiding the country’s earthquake victims.
Jones, along with his mission team, built showers, served meals, ran a movie projector at night, and played soccer with children – anything to get their minds off the tragedy of Jan. 12, 2010. The 7.0-magnitude quake left more than 230,000 dead and 1.3 million homeless.
At the time, Jones, a redshirt freshman, was still basking in the glow of Alabama’s 14-0 season when he saw the Haitian deaths and destruction on all the TV news channels. He knew this was the missionary trip he had been seeking for more than a year. He got the chance with Eikon Ministries.
It was Jones’ grandfather, Harry Smith, who got Barrett in touch with Roy “Soup” Campbell. Campbell, a former University of Memphis baseball player, has been involved in Memphis inner-city ministries since 1983, including Eikon Ministries since 1997. Campbell got a hold of Barrett and gave him the opportunity to minister to the people of Haiti.
Recently my church, Fellowship Bible Church, had a men’s retreat, and Roy “Soup” Campbell was the featured speaker. I reconnected with him after all these years. He befriended my three sisters while at the University of Memphis and was a visitor on occasion to my parents’ house in the 1980’s. Campbell told Jones that the trip was going to be tough, and he keeps that in mind when choosing people to go on his mission trips. It would be a sacrifice.
The website www.sportsspectrum.com  quoted Alabama Coach Nick Saban:
“Barrett Jones is one of the greatest people I’ve ever had the opportunity to be around,” Saban says. “To make that sacrifice two years in a row when other student-athletes are worried about going to the beach. He’s willing to go give up himself and help people. That speaks volumes for the compassion that he has for other people.”
Barrett Jones has a long-term perspective on life. On the Fellowship of Christian Athletes website he was quoted:
“I feel very blessed to have a relationship with the Lord and the testimony of understanding that earthly trophies are only temporary. I mean, there I was on the national championship team – the pinnacle of the college football world – holding the crystal trophy, but I still knew it didn’t have any eternal value. I held the crystal football, but it didn’t compare to having a relationship with Jesus.”
Last October, I went back to my 30th class reunion to ECS, and Barrett Jones’ father Rex greeted me.
The week before the Crimson Tide had visited Fayetteville and defeated my Razorbacks with a fourth-quarter comeback. Hopefully this year the Razorbacks will be the ones with the fourth quarter comeback.
Nevertheless, it is just for a temporary trophy. Barrett Jones has his sights on what is of eternal value.
For information on Eikon Ministries, go online to eikonministries.com or call Soup Campbell at 901-452-6797.
Hatcher is a regular contributor to The Saline Courier. He is the fourth generation in his family to work in the broom manufacturing business. Everette and his wife Jill have four children and live in Alexander.