ATHENS – Ben Jones, the Georgia football team’s starting center for the past three years, will wear a different jersey number for his senior season –- a long-planned tribute to his late father.
Jones is switching from No. 61 to No. 60, which was worn by his father, Steve Jones, as a high school player in South Georgia.
“My dad passed away when I was 10 … in a helicopter crash at work [as a forester],” Jones said Saturday. “He was a Georgia fan; he was the one that got me to watching Georgia; he actually graduated from Georgia with a forestry degree. . . . There’s no better year to wear No. 60 to honor my dad than my senior year here at Georgia, his favorite school and my favorite school.”
Jones said he wore No. 60 “all the way through since I was 10 years old” until he arrived at Georgia in 2008 and found the number unavailable because it belonged to fellow offensive lineman Clint Boling, who was one year ahead of Jones.
“I said, ‘I’ll just wait until [Boling] is gone to get No. 60,’” Jones said. “So I’ve had this planned since I’ve been here. I was waiting to stay my senior year and wear No. 60 in honor of my dad.”
Boling completed his eligibility last season and is preparing for the NFL draft.
Jones’ strong desire to wear No. 60 at Georgia, he said, is one reason he didn’t seriously consider entering this year’s draft as a junior.
Although he grew up in Alabama, Jones said he always was a UGA fan because of his father’s influence.
For more news and notes from Saturday’s football practice, please click here.
– Tim Tucker, AJC