Jamarco Jones is about to play his very last game as an Ohio State Buckeye, and the meaning of it has not been lost on the senior.
He has been OSU’s starting left tackle the last two years, but he had to wait his turn. Jones needed to put in the work to show that he was ready, but he also had help every step of the way.
When the Buckeyes’ last starting left tackle — Taylor Decker — left following the 2015 season, it was time for Jones to step forward and take over. He did just that and has been tremendous ever since.
Now, with just one game remaining, he is not only focused on USC and the Cotton Bowl, but also leaving the offensive line room in a better position than when he arrived.
“You want to leave the room better than when you got there. That’s a big focus. We don’t want there to be any drop off,” Jones said.
“That’s one thing Taylor always talked to me about, not being any drop off when he leaves and when I have to step in there and play. And whoever has to step in there and play next year, I want the same thing, so you just have to make sure we’re still pushing these young guys to get better every day.”
Bowl season is always a great opportunity for next year’s starters to begin gaining some footing. There is no time to do it during the season, but in bowl prep there are plenty of reps to go around. And while the young players are taking advantage of those opportunities, the older players — like Jamarco Jones — are doing as much coaching as they are practicing.
“You just try to help bring other guys along,” he said. “Just making sure the transition for some of the younger guys into the next season, going into this offseason and into this next spring ball, that they know the playbook and things like that. Making sure they’re focused in practice every day, they’re coming prepared, knowing what to do. Just things like that.”
Since Urban Meyer arrived at Ohio State in 2012, there have been few positions in college football as consistent as OSU’s left tackles.
Jack Mewhort started for two years, then Taylor Decker had his two years, and now Jamarco Jones is capping his two seasons as J.T. Barrett’s blindside bodyguard.
Jones is hoping for one last win in his Buckeye career later this month, and he is working hard to make that happen. He is working just as hard, however, to make sure that next year’s offensive line will be able to overcome the absence of a couple of departing seniors.
Ultimately, however, it will still be up to the players who remain in 2018 to show that they belong. Veterans like Jones can try to explain it to them and bring them along as best they can, but eventually they just have to get out there and do it.
“There’s no better teacher than actually going into the game,” Jones said. “You can practice all you want to, but there’s just nothing like playing in the stadium in front of the fans. There’s a lot more to it than just football.
“I think it’s just a great opportunity any time you get to go into a game, no matter what the situation is. Good or bad, you can always learn from it. I think it’s going to always help you moving forward, whether it’s how you prepare for something, or how you go about your business on game day. I think it’s all a learning experience.”