All Alvin Jones wanted was a chance.
He was a three-sport athlete at Burges High School in El Paso, Texas. He was a three-year letter and played both ways with a Mustang football team that clinched two playoff appearances and an area championship in 2012. He earned All-District 1-4A honors his senior year- First Team as a defensive back and Second Team as a quarterback.
But when the phone would ring in the Jones household, coaches were asking to talk to his twin brother, Aaron.
“[My recruitment] was pretty nonexistent,” Jones said. “I would sit in the library and send my highlights to different schools. Aaron told coaches about me, but I’m not sure how well it worked. UTEP looked at me only after they reached out to Aaron.”
The redshirt junior linebacker has certainly done well with the chance UTEP gave him.
Jones made an immediate impact when he began his career in 2014, recording the second-most tackles on the team with 55, including nine tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks en route to an All-Conference USA Freshman Team honor.
As a sophomore, he notched 6.5 sacks, two safeties and 14.5 tackles for loss, which tied for second most in Conference USA and put him in UTEP’s record books tied for ninth all-time in a single season. His 93 total tackles were the most in a single season for a Miner defender in three years.
“Alvin is relentless,” said Marcus Graham, who coached Jones at Burges. “He’s very smart, has a quiet intensity and is one of the most physical players I’ve coached. I always told him to prove those guys [who didn’t recruit him] wrong, and he has shown fortitude and character.”
Despite his individual accomplishments, Jones is most proud to be playing alongside his brother at the collegiate level just 15 minutes from where they got their start.
“[Playing together] was always a dream, but we didn’t know if it would be a reality,” Jones said. “It’s made us closer, because some things you go through with teammates you can’t share with your family, but he’s both for me. What we’re doing, it doesn’t happen often. It’s been unreal.”
Sometimes competition can cause a rift between siblings, but that hasn’t been the case for the Joneses. Even though Aaron, who is the youngest by 30 minutes, gets most of the attention when it comes to athletics, Alvin was never bitter.
“He took it very well,” Graham said. “We had conversations about it, and most kids would have been upset or complained but he never did. He was always a team player and very supportive.”
But as Jones develops into “a historically great football player for the Miners”, as Mike Craven of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football said during the summer, he’s generating just as much attention as his brother.
He was named to ESPN’s Preseason All-Conference USA First Team and ranked No. 38 on Dave Campbell’s list of the most important college players in Texas. He may not be the biggest or the strongest defender on the field every game, but his football IQ, natural instincts and work ethic make him one of the best.
“Personally, I want to be the conference Defensive Player of the Year,” Jones said. “I want us to win a conference championship and go to a bowl game and win that, too.”
Jones knows those goals won’t come easy, but all he needs is a chance.