Signing Day: Bulldog O-lineman KeeWayne Jones signs with Alcorn State

Published 12:49 am Thursday, February 8, 2018

Natchez High School’s KeeWayne Jones surprised an auditorium filled with classmates, coaches and family members Wednesday as he held up the banner with the name of his future school — Alcorn State University.

Just two weeks prior to signing his National Letter of Intent, Jones was surprised himself.

“Alcorn gave me an opportunity. One of the coaches texted me out of the blue,” he said. “I didn’t even know him, but apparently they had looked over my film and liked what they saw. I didn’t expect it at all.”

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After a season-ending injury during the second week of his senior year, Jones was left with a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee, as well as a broken heart.

“I knew something wrong,” he said. “I could walk and jog on it, but I just couldn’t make a turn on my knee.

“I went to get an MRI, and I was crushed. When the doctor told my season was over, it was really sad. That was my senior year.”

In the midst of personal turmoil, Jones didn’t know if he was going to ever play football again.

“They asked if I wanted to try and play on it with a brace or have surgery,” he said. “I figured that having a surgery earlier would definitely help me to play college football.”

The surgery, Jones said, was nerve-wracking, but not as much as the possibility to lose the opportunity to do what he loves. It was scheduled for mid-November.

“That was my first time having surgery, so it was a little scary,” he said. “I was worried that I wasn’t going to be the same. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play like I played before my injury.

“I always wanted a scholarship, but I didn’t figure I would get one after I got hurt.”

During recovery, Jones wanted to do the most he could to make sure that didn’t happen.

“I just wanted to work hard in therapy and work hard to get back to where I was,” he said.

Alcorn had been interested in Jones’ talents as an offensive lineman during his junior year, so when he got the chance, he took it.

“I was just planning to walk on somewhere, so I just took the opportunity,” he said. “I feel relieved now. It was a whole bunch of stress.

“I’m excited to play for a school close to home where everybody can come watch me. I like knowing that my family is there motivating me and supporting me. It pushes me to go even harder.”

After his injury, Jones said he is now a stronger person overall.

“I feel like I’ve been getting better and better,” he said. “It tested my mind, but I think it made my mind stronger, too. It really opened me up to look for other opportunities.”

For younger athletes who might find themselves in the same situation, Jones has one piece of advice, too.

“Seize the moment,” he said.