The names of six Auburn products can be found on the New England Patriots’ roster to begin training camp.
It’s a sight that cornerback Jonathan Jones, who arrived as an undrafted free agent in 2016, likes to see.
“I think the foundation of both programs,” Jones said on his video conference with the media on Wednesday, “they’re kind of built the same. It’s built on work. And hard work is kind of one of the mottos at Auburn. Here it’s kind of the same thing – a ‘show up, do your job’ kind of mentality.”
Wide receiver Will Hastings and defensive lineman Nick Coe are rookies in New England’s fold this August. They are joined by quarterback Jarrett Stidham and linebacker Brandon King, who both transferred to Auburn. As did former Heisman Trophy winner, BCS national champion and No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton.
“We met, talked before,” Jones said of Newton. “But I kind of missed him at college. He left obviously before I got there. But we’re excited to have him here and we’re ready to get to work.”
Jones was a junior at Carrollton High School in Georgia when Newton and the Tigers went 14-0. The quarterback by way of Florida and Blinn College amassed 30 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing touchdowns in the process.
That influenced Jones, a three-star recruit who would go on to play for head coaches Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn.
“A lot,” said Jones. “I can see the face of the program, the way they were turning. Him and a lot of the other guys that were there – just the foundation that they were laying at that program when he was there – that was definitely a turning point for Auburn. As a junior coming out and going to those recruiting visits, watching them play and seeing that foundation, it meant a lot to me as a young kid coming out.”
Jones finished as a four-year starter in the Auburn secondary. His tenure brought 129 tackles, seven interceptions, 26 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
But also a few Iron Bowls versus the Crimson Tide.
“It feels good to have a lot more Auburn guys than ‘Bama guys now,” added Jones.