Whether he plays on Saturday or not, this is it for Cam Jones’ college football career.
After starting his fifth season at IU on what head coach Tom Allen has referred to as an All-American pace, Jones was injured in the Nebraska game and hasn’t seen the field since.
With one more opportunity to play for Indiana, it would be reasonable to expect Jones to have a singular focus this week — get back out there between the lines a final time.
But the Memphis, Tenn. product has more than himself in mind as the weather turns cold and the holiday season approaches.
Jones is hosting a coat drive on Wednesday in Lot 8 outside Memorial Stadium in Bloomington from 1 to 3 p.m.
Living out Allen’s “Love Each Other” culture in a tangible way this week, Jones said he’s had a lot of time to think about others while rehabbing his foot injury.
“As humans we become selfish,” he said on Monday.
“The path that I go to take home, I always see a lot of homeless and unfortunate people outside, and I know that the weather is getting cold and I wanted to do something good for my community, with the help of my team.”
It’s a dual path this week as Jones attempts to give it one last go on Senior Day Saturday against Purdue (3:30 p.m., BTN).
Jones said “anything is appreciated” at the coat drive, and any action at Memorial Stadium with a program he’s been a part of June of 2018 would no doubt be welcomed as well.
“Cam Jones is busting his tail to play on Saturday,” coach Tom Allen said Monday. “We still don’t know yet if he’s going to play. He’s out there today trying to work through it.”
In five games, Jones has 54 tackles including three for a loss and a sack, along with a forced and recovered fumble. His fast start propelled him to become the team active leader in tackles (208), and Jones sits No. 2 on the team with 10 career takeaways (2 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries).
That he played in five games rather than four means Jones is not eligible for a redshirt season. So this is it for a player who had a significant role for five seasons, started his career at the husky position, and has been a three-year starter and captain at linebacker.
Since the injury Jones has been described each week as an active participant in game preparation, and despite headcount limitations, Allen has had Jones travel with the team for road games because of his strong leadership voice.
Indiana has become so thin at his stinger linebacker position, free safety and long-time teammate Bryant Fitzgerald had to play the spot last weekend. With Jones’ help behind the scenes in the week leading up to the Michigan State game, Fitzgerald registered 14 tackles in IU’s 39-31 upset win.
The duo have been on the field together since Jones arrived in 2018 and led the team in forced fumbles from the husky position.
Now Jones is hoping he can fill the stinger role one more time, with Fitzgerald back six yards behind him at free safety.
“Hopefully I can be back out there with the guys and bring that Bucket back home,” Jones said.
Whether that happens remains to be seen.
But with Jones’ help on Wednesday, several locals in need will be a little warmer when they go back home right before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Note — Jones says coats can be mailed if you cannot make it on Wednesday:
Indiana Football, c/o Cam Jones, 701 E 17th Street, Bloomington, IN 47408
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