JONES RETURNS TO HUTCH TO PUT ON THE PADS

Matt Jones (59) played baseball at Hutchinson in 2014. Then he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now Jones returns to Hutch to give football a try. (Bre Rogers, Blue Dragon Sports Information)
Matt Jones (59) played baseball at Hutchinson in 2014. Then he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now Jones returns to Hutch to give football a try. (Bre Rogers, Blue Dragon Sports Information)

By Rebecca Carney
Hutchinson Collegian staff writer
Contributing Writer for BlueDragonSports.com

The last time Matt Jones played football was in 2011 as a high school quarterback at Gretna High School, which is located in a western suburb of Omaha, Nebraska.

Now, for the first time in seven years, Jones is back on the football field.

Not only is Jones back on the football field, but he is also back at Hutchinson Community College.

In 2014, Jones attended HutchCC for the spring semester and played for the baseball team under current coach, Ryan Schmidt. During the 2014 season, Jones, who played as an outfielder and helped lead the Blue Dragons to a 43-17 season and a Jayhawk West championship.

Jones hit .372 with 67 total hits, 10 home runs and 53 RBIs in his one season playing left field with the Dragons. He was also hit 40 times by pitches, which remains a Blue Dragon single-season and career record. Jones had a .538 on-base percentage and .611 slugging percentage.

That summer, Jones was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 25th round. Jones chased his dream, playing in the minor leagues for four years, before deciding it was time to move on to something else.

Jones' story for coming back to HutchCC to play football is not your typical story.

Jones would occasionally come back to HutchCC to visit and help Schmidt with baseball, leading to the question whether Jones had any college eligibility left.

In the summer of 2018, he was asked that question. Jones, of course, did have eligibility, and was asked by athletic director, Josh Gooch, what he thought about playing football.

For Jones, this was a no brainer.

He knew he wanted to come back and play football. And just like that, the plan for Jones to play football for the Blue Dragons was in the works. Less than an hour later, HutchCC football coach Rion Rhoades was on the phone with Jones telling him that minicamp started the next week.

Now, two months after coming back to HutchCC, Jones is a member of the offensive line and is the starting punter for the Blue Dragons.

With Jones standing at 6-feet, 6-inches and weighing 284 pounds, he is larger than the average punter. Also, at age 24, Jones is a bit older than most players on the football team. As Jones says, "I'm old. Everybody calls me dad and that's OK."

With Jones being older than most of the other players, many teammates look up to him. Jones wants to be that guy that others can come to for advice and learn from him. For some, this may a challenge, but Jones handles the job well knowing that he is the "dad" of the team.

Jones being admired doesn't just stop with his teammates, as Jones is someone whom the coaches respect as well.

"Matt is a great addition," Rhoades said. "I'm sure that I only know the tip of the iceberg of how he has helped some of our younger players grow and learn and mature through the process."

While Jones is headed down a very successful path here at HutchCC, he hopes his journey of playing football is not finished just yet saying, "Ideally, I would like to attend a powerhouse NAIA school or a (NCAA) Division II school after I'm done here."