The Chicago Bears used the 71st pick on Tennessee wide receiver, Velus Jones Jr. To get to where he is today, Jones Jr. had to have a lot of grit and determination. His story begins in Mobile, Alabama, where he was born and raised. In the Bears' YouTube series, "Meet the Rookies", Velus recalled his youth. He loved to run and everyone knew everyone else in town, so there were many opportunities to play as a kid.
Velus Jones Jr. Starts To Take Off
It wasn't until the 10th grade, that Velus Jones Jr. started to really elevate his game. "He was playing cornerback... and was moved to wide receiver," said Jones Sr., also a former wide receiver.
"My dad was good at football and was good at track, thats where I get my speed from."
Velus Jones Jr.
While the physical attributes were a benefit, there were some cons that came with following an athletic father.
"Velus had to listen to all of his uncles, friends, and relatives tell him throughout his life that 'your daddy was the best since sliced bread.' If you are only half as good as he is, you will be okay."
Jason West, family friend of Jones Jr.
To no avail, Jones Jr. stayed the course, believed in himself, and excelled.
Near Miss With Tragedy
In his sophomore year, Jones Jr. was shot while driving around with his friends. The incident was a great shock and sent his inner circle into a frenzy. But the doctor gave relieving news to Jones Jr. and his family.
He was only hit with a bird shot round. Any other type of ammunition likely would have killed him. Luckily, Jones Jr. made a full recovery. After living through that terrifying experience, Jones Jr. said:
"Everything happened for a reason and if that didn't happen to me, I wouldn't be the person who I am now, who I am today."
Chicago Bears wide receiver Velus Jones Jr.
He became friends with Jack West, his high school teammate who's two years younger than him. Jones Jr. mentored West due to the age gap but both players thrived off of how driven each other was.
"He just became part of our family. The duo was always working out early in the morning, every day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday. Everyone around just appreciated the amount of work the two put in with each other."
Jack's mother Ann Michele West
Velus Jones Jr.'s Rugged Road Through College
Jones Jr. transferred to Tennessee in his last year and played his early college football at USC. "At USC, I was like in a depression state... school was tough at the time. God, my faith pulled me through" said Jones Jr. recalling his tenure at USC. Despite that he stayed at USC and got his social sciences degree.
"He didn't take the easy road. Velus said 'I'm going to stick it out and I'm going to do the best I can, and if I play, I play. If I don't, I'm gonna work harder.' Velus never complained about the coaches making him whatever, he didn't have a negative thing to say about them. He knew if he wanted to play he better get better, and so he did."
The hard work paid off at Tennessee where he made the 2021 All-SEC First Team.
"I just remember my fifth grade year... I was like I am going to go to the NFL, and I remember telling my fifth grade teacher that and she laughed. A lot of people doubted me, doubted my journey, didn't believe, but I never stopped believing in myself."
Velus Jones Jr.
Jones Jr, comes to the Chicago Bears right when they hit the reset button. The empty house will give Jones Jr. a chance to make an immediate impact.