Joey Jones Football Camps
Joey Jones | Head Coach
Joey Jones came to the University of South Alabama in February of 2008 with hopes of making history as the head coach of a program starting from scratch. Following the Jaguars’ first-ever bowl appearance last fall — the quickest an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision program has accomplished the feat — he is well on his way to achieving that goal.
Facing a schedule that did not include an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision foe, featured multiple opponents from the Southeastern Conference and road games against both defending Sun Belt Conference co-champions, Jones helped the Jaguars win six contests for the second year in a row while posting a 5-3 mark in league action. As a result, USA earned an invitation to the inaugural Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, where the Jags would battle back from a double-digit deficit to take a lead with less than a minute-and-a-half remaining before falling in the waning moments of the game.
For the second year in a row, 10 Jaguars earned all-conference honors while off the field both Rush Hendricks and Jesse Kelley were selected first-team Capital One academic all-district; it marked the second time in three seasons that multiple Jags earned the honor. And, 17 members of the program made the Dean’s List after the fall semester while 21 individuals recorded a grade-point average of 3.0 or better during the campaign.
The program also set another standard in January with a record three players invited to participate in postseason all-star games; Brandon Bridge played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl — the second time in three years a Jaguar has appeared in the contest — with Wes Saxton competing in the East-West Shrine Game the same day and Jerome McClain taking part in the College Gridiron Showcase.
Jones, 52, will enter the fall with a 37-28 record guiding USA since the program’s inception.
In 2013, the Jaguars were coming off a 2-11 campaign, playing their first season as an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision school and were picked to finish seventh out of eight teams in the Sun Belt preseason poll; instead, they tied for third with a 4-3 mark and won six games to achieve bowl eligibility. For his efforts in guiding the team well above those expectations — USA’s 4½-game win-loss improvement tied for fifth best in the country — Jones was voted the league’s Coach of the Year.
He led the Jags to victories over both participants in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, including a 30-8 defeat of conference co-champion Louisiana-Lafayette in the season finale as USA ended the year with a three-game winning streak. And five of the Jaguars’ six losses were decided by seven points or less, with the team advancing into the red zone in the final minutes at Tennessee before falling by a touchdown and three other contests decided in the final seven seconds or later.
Following the season, 10 Jags picked up all-Sun Belt honors including four first-team selections. USA gained nearly 100 more yards per outing offensively than the year before, ranking in the top half of the conference with over 425 yards per game, and once again was among the top units in the league on the other side of the ball after finishing second in passing, total and scoring defense.
Off the field, 34 Jaguars recorded a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher during the season, and Hendricks was a first-team academic all-district selection.
In 2012, the Jaguars’ first competing in the SBC, the program had four individuals earn all-league honors paced by first-team selection Jake Johnson, the leading tackler in the conference who guided a unit that ranked second in yards allowed per outing and was first in red zone defense. USA picked up its first-ever Sun Belt victory with a 37-34 come-from-behind double-overtime win over Florida Atlantic Homecoming weekend, while also dropping one-score decisions at league champion Arkansas State and against runner-up Middle Tennessee.
At the end of the year, Johnson and B.J. Scott were invited to participate in both the Senior Bowl and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star contests while Trey Clark was honored for his work in the classroom by being the first individual in program history selected to CoSIDA’s Capital One Academic All-America team.
In the classroom, 25 Jaguars posted a 3.0 grade-point average or better during the 2012 campaign — including 12 who made the Dean’s List — with those numbers increasing to 41 and 15, respectively, during the spring semester.
Just 22 months after taking over the reins of the school’s start-up football venture, Jones helped lead the Jags to an undefeated record in its first-ever season on the field in 2009. And not only did USA go 7-0 against a schedule that included four high-level prep programs, two top-20 junior colleges and a qualifier for the NCAA Division III playoffs, but it outscored the opposition 321-41 while never trailing at any point during the season.
The Jaguars’ dominance was seen in all phases of the game in 2009. Defensively, they surrendered only 234 yards per contest, including just 61 on the ground as foes averaged less than two yards per carry. On offense, USA racked up just under 440 yards per outing led by a rushing attack that collected 267 yards per game and better than six per carry. Jag placekickers connected on 83 percent of their field-goal attempts, while the punting unit averaged 42 yards per kick.
The Jags would face a tougher schedule that included all four-year institutions in 2010, including four at or on the way to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA), but the results would be the same — USA completed a 10-0 season while outscoring the opposition 413-130.
The offense once again racked up nearly 440 total yards per outing, though a more balanced unit collected better than 200 yards per game both rushing (232.4) and passing (207.3). Defensively, the Jaguars shut out three opponents and limited two others to a single-digit point total, surrendering just 81 yards per game on the ground and 255 overall. And on the basis of recording 25 takeaways (15 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries), USA posted a plus-10 turnover margin.
Several areas of special teams play showed significant improvement in year two under Jones, with the Jaguars nearly doubling their punt return average (going from 8.8 per runback in ’09 to 16.0 the following fall) while USA placekickers connected on 17 field goals one year after converting only four.
In 2011, Jones led the Jags to a 6-4 mark against the program’s toughest schedule to date, one that included the first two NCAA FBS opponents in school history. The USA defense was among the top 20 at the NCAA FCS level in both pass (10th — 167 ypg) and total (16th — 309.70 ypg) defense, while the Jaguars ranked eighth in the country with an average of 23.91 yards per kickoff return. Jordan Means became the first player in school history to earn All-America honors, while Trey Clark was recognized for his work in the classroom earning academic honors from both the Football Championship Subdivision Athletic Directors Association and the College Sports Information Directors of America).
Following the announcement in December 2007 that the school was going to begin playing football, former USA Director of Athletics Joe Gottfried and the head coach search committee laid out their list of qualifications for the program’s first-ever head coach which included three key qualities they desired. They wanted to find someone with collegiate experience, someone with ties to the state of Alabama and the Mobile area, and someone with the youthful energy needed to start a program from scratch.
As the process continued further and further along, one name continued to rise back to the top — that of Jones.
Formerly the head coach at Birmingham-Southern and a native of Mobile, Jones was named as South Alabama’s first head football coach on February 15, 2008, culminating a month-long search.
Jones is no stranger to building programs from the ground up at both the high school and collegiate level. He returned to his hometown after two years at Birmingham-Southern, where he was hired in 2006 to restart the school’s football program there. After spending a year overseeing administrative aspects of the program such as hiring assistant coaches, designing facilities and recruiting players for the Division III program, he led his 2007 squad of 126 freshmen to a 3-7 overall record, including a pair of wins over established junior-college programs.
Success has followed Jones throughout his career, both as a coach and as a player. Before moving into the college ranks, he compiled an impressive 125-38 (76.7%) record in 13 years at the high-school level, including a 10-year run at Birmingham’s Mountain Brook High, where he was 101-27 (78.9%) from 1996-05.
After inheriting a program that had endured nine consecutive losing seasons, Jones directed the Spartans to the 1996 Class 6A state championship game, four region titles, two semifinal appearances and three quarterfinal appearances during his tenure.
In his second season with the Spartans, they won a postseason contest before falling in the second round in overtime, while his efforts helped MBHS reach the quarterfinals each of the next two falls. Jones led the program to a first-round victory in the 2001 postseason before helping the school return to the state semifinals a year later. In 2003, the Spartans reached the quarterfinals of the state playoffs, while they would go on to reach the semifinals the next season and win another first-round game in Jones’ final year leading the program.
Jones began his head coaching career at Dora High School, where he registered a 24-11 (68.6%) mark in three seasons (1991-93). It took just one year for him to lead the Bulldogs to postseason action, as they won a first round state 5A playoff contest before falling in overtime in 1992, while his efforts took the school to the quarterfinals the next season. From 1989-90, he served on the Briarwood Christian staff, helping the school to a berth in the quarterfinals of the state 3A playoffs his final year.
A 1989 graduate of Alabama with a degree in business administration, Jones became one of the most beloved Crimson Tide players during his tenure, which began under the tutelage of legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. In Jones’ four seasons in Tuscaloosa, the Tide compiled a record of 35-12-1 (74%), including two Cotton Bowl appearances. He finished his career with 71 receptions, 1,386 yards and 15 touchdowns, ranking fourth on the career touchdown receptions chart and seventh in career receiving yards. As a junior in 1982, Jones had eight TD receptions, which ranks tied for third in UA single-season record book.
Jones earned all-Southeastern Conference honors as a senior after hauling in 31 receptions for 468 yards and five scores. He was later selected to Alabama’s All-Decade Team for the 1980s and played professionally with the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL and the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
In April 2011, Jones — who prepped locally at Murphy High School — was inducted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame.
Jones and his wife, Elise, have three children, Joe Jr., (29), Jake (27) and Caroline (20).