Iowa Football

Iowa football Tuesday Takeoff: A life lesson in the snaps

Amani Jones Sr. hopes Amani Jones Jr. is taking notes; and I'd bid on a Nate Stanley coffee table right now

Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Amani Jones ties his son's shoelace as they hang out on the field after practice during Kids Day at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. Players signed autographs and took selfies with fans, and families had a chance to watch a Hawkeye football practice. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Amani Jones ties his son's shoelace as they hang out on the field after practice during Kids Day at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. Players signed autographs and took selfies with fans, and families had a chance to watch a Hawkeye football practice. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — No, it wasn’t a rocket ride to the stars for linebacker Amani Jones.

He had a shot to own the middle linebacker spot last season. It didn’t work. Since then, he’s lived in a world looking for a spark, at least on the field. The senior from Chicago has been a steady special teamer and has had a bit of a role as a third-down pass rusher.

Jones is a plug of a linebacker. He holds weightroom squat records. He could’ve taken his body to a lot of other places and found a home. Lots of Hawkeyes have transferred over to Illinois State and found a home. Maybe a MAC school could’ve used a linebacker who can squat 600 pounds.

Here Jones is, ready to take the senior day march with the Hawkeyes this weekend against his homestate school Illinois.

“I don’t quit,” Jones said Tueseday. “I don’t quit. At all. I committed to something truly and there’s no backing down.”

Jones talked about drawing inspiration from his mom, Marie Parker. She works for a living and Jones sees that.

“My mom had one job for 17 years,” Jones said. “They did her wrong, they did her great and they just kept up and down with her. That’s just life. I learned that from her. You can’t just quit because something isn’t going your way.”

Let’s rewind to kids day, the sneak peak the Hawkeyes give fans in Kinnick Stadium in August.

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At the end of drills, players have a few minutes to say hi to anyone who came to watch them. There are some autographs. Mostly for players, it’s a rare chance to take a real breath during the heat suck that is August camp.

Jones went off in a different direction than his teammates. He made a run toward his son, Amani Jr., nearly a year and a half old.

Not to get too big picture here, but there is a human element here.

No, it didn’t happen big time for Jones, on the field. He hung on at Iowa. He didn’t transfer. He didn’t quit.

Amani Jones Sr. hopes Amani Jones Jr. is paying attention. And, yes, Amani Sr. knows he’s just a little fella.

“Yes!” Jones said. “I’m teaching him that now.”

There’s an example.

“He gets all of his toys out,” Jones said. “Then he gets up and leaves or it’s time for bed and I start picking up the toys. He’ll watch me pick them up and then I’ll just sit down and see what he does.

“He looks up at me, I say ‘Keep going, you have to finish what you started.’ I point at the toy and say, ‘Get that toy, get this toy and put it over there on the bed.’

“It slowly teaches him little things.”

What else did we learn on the pre-senior day news conference?

Quarterback Nate Stanley does woodworking. Not just wood working. He makes tables and bed frames and the whole deal.

“It came from high school,” Stanley said. “My brother took some woodshop classes in high school and got me into it. My production tech teacher in high school was a really great guy. I took four woodworking classes in high school.”

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“It’s just something I really like to do. I love working with my hands and just really enjoy being able to say ‘Hey, I made that.’

“I make the analogy to football, because you spend so much time and effort on making something. In football, you put in 12 months of work for 12 games. In woodworking, you put in 12 weeks to make something like a small coffee table.

“You put so much time, effort and attention to detail into something, it’s just very satisfying when you get to do that.”

Can you believe it’s senior day? Can you believe it’s time to say goodbye?

Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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