Belton, TX – Javicz Jones has accomplished a great deal in his football career at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and he's done it all with a certain amount of style. So it came as no surprise that when Jones became the all-time leading tackler in American Southwest Conference history on Saturday, he put his own unique stamp on that mark.
Jones entered the Cru's contest with East Texas Baptist needing just one stop to wrest the conference tackle record away from former Hardin-Simmons linebacker Jared Sanderson. He accomplished that on just the third offensive play of the game for the Tigers and also forced a fumble on the play. But that was just the beginning of a record-setting day for the senior from Katy Morton Ranch High School.
He finished off that first ETBU drive by intercepting a pass and returning it 24 yards for a touchdown to give UMHB a 14-0 lead. He would put the exclamation point on the day by intercepting another Tiger pass and bringing it back a school-record 92 yards in the fourth quarter to stretch the Cru lead to 40-6. In between, Jones posted 12 more tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss. He became the first UMHB player to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game and is now just one of three Cru players to accomplish that feat in a single season. Jones now has six touchdowns in his career with three interception returns, two blocked field goal returns and a fumble return for a score.
Jones ran his career total to 416 tackles and is the leading active tackler in NCAA Division III. He is the first player in UMHB history to go over 400 tackles and broke the previous school career record for tackles during his junior season in 2011. Jones also holds the UMHB and ASC single season record with the 141 tackles he recorded last season. Jones set the old Cru record of 120 during his sophomore campaign. He is the reigning ASC and D3football.com South Region Defensive Player of the Year and earned ASC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honors this season. Those numbers and honors would be impressive for any player, but become even more amazing when you consider Jones originally came to UMHB as an offensive player.
"You know Javicz came here to play receiver and then had his freshman year derailed by injuries," Cru head coach Pete Fredenburg said. "So we moved him to safety and then decided to move him to linebacker. Every time we've moved him, he kind of looks at us funny, but then he goes out and makes plays every time. He is just so instinctive and he is a joy to coach."
Jones is guaranteed at least two more chances to add to his career numbers. UMHB's 54-20 win over ETBU clinched a playoff bid for the Cru, along with at least a share of the program's tenth ASC Championship. UMHB will close out the regular season with a 1:00 PM home game against Mississippi College this Saturday. Then the Cru will find out its first round playoff opponent and game site when the 32-team field for the NCAA Division III National Championships is announced Sunday evening. UMHB is currently ranked #2 in the country and the Cru has posted a 43-4 overall record during Jones playing career. His on-the-field performance is one big reason for that success, but his leadership may make just as much of an impact.
"When we selected captains for this season, everybody picked Javicz," Fredenburg said. And by that, I don't just mean a majority; I mean he was a unanimous selection."
Jones will certainly leave a mark on the UMHB football program long after his playing career ends. He also continues to leave his mark all over the ASC and UMHB record books, as well.