Julius Jones (born August 14, 1981 in Big Stone Gap, Virginia) is an American football running back who played college football at the University of Notre Dame and currently for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League. He is the younger brother of New York Jets running back Thomas Jones and in 2006 they became the first brothers to each rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. Jones was originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
Jones played college football at the University of Notre Dame
from 1999-2001 and 2003. In 2003 he set a single game school record for rushing yards in a game when he had 262 against Pittsburgh. In that season, Jones rushed for 200+ yards in 3 games, which is another school record. He also holds multiple career records for kick and punt returns.
The Dallas Cowboys, in need of a potential franchise running back and passing on highly touted prospects Steven Jackson
, Chris Perry
, Kevin Jones
, drafted Julius Jones out of the University of Notre Dame. Jones was selected in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft
, after the Cowboys traded their first round pick to the Buffalo Bills
(who used it to select J.P. Losman
) for a future 2005 first round pick who the Cowboys would later use on defensive end Marcus Spears
. After the NFL's All-Time leading rusher Emmitt Smith
departed to Arizona, the Cowboys hoped Jones would be the fix for a disappointing running attack led by former starter Troy Hambrick
. However, already with a bruised rib, Jones fractured his scapula bone in a win versus the Cleveland Browns
early in week two and the team was forced to depend on veteran free agent acquisition Eddie George
during his absence.
Jones was later healthy enough to play midway through the season and despite in a losing effort, he gained 80 yards on a stingy Baltimore Ravens defense led by Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis. A week later, on a nationally televised Thanksgiving stage against his older brother Thomas and the Chicago Bears, Julius won "player of the game" honors when he rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns. As a result, Jones was the second Dallas Cowboy chosen for FOX's annual "Galloping Gobbler" trophy awarded every Thanksgiving Day. This honor was formerly bestowed upon running back Emmitt Smith in 2002 and later awarded to quarterback Tony Romo in 2006. As the season came to a close, Jones looked very impressive as he rushed for over 800 yards in the 8 remaining regular season games. The future looked promising and it appeared as if the team had found their successor to Emmitt Smith. Jones was one of the few bright spots in a dismal 6-10 season for the Dallas Cowboys.
Jones made a bold and confident goal of reaching 1700 yards and 20 touchdowns. Against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 5, Julius rushed for 72 yards in the first half, but suffered a high ankle sprain that bothered him the entire season and was forced to sit out for 3 games. For the second straight year, Jones was considered to be injury prone and unable to carry the load of a franchise back. Rookie running back Marion Barber III
turned in several strong performances in Julius' absence creating a running back controversy. Against the Detroit Lions
Jones had rushed for 92 yards, but on 1st and goal from the 1 yard line, he was stopped 3 consecutive times. Later against the Carolina Panthers
, Jones once again demonstrated his play-making ability when rushed for two touchdowns and 194 yards. Former Cowboys quarterback and now Fox Network commentator Troy Aikman
, commented on Jones' speed burst and agility, something he had not seen since Julius' rookie season in 2004. The Cowboys finished the season with an uninspiring loss the next week to the St. Louis Rams
at Texas Stadium
. At a record of 9-7, Dallas missed the playoffs for the 2nd consecutive year and as if to signify the entire season, Jones came just 7 yards short of his first 1,000 yard season.
Jones' only goal this time was to stay healthy for a full season. After a strong start in which he gained 494 yards over the first five games, Jones saw his playing time decrease near the goal line and in the 4th quarter to Barber. Bill Parcells stated he wanted to keep both running backs fresh and used a "dual-back" system with Jones as the starter and Barber as the finisher. In week 14, versus the New Orleans Saints
, Jones had the longest rush from scrimmage in his career with a 77-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the game. Jones also finally surpassed the 1,000 yard mark to become the first Cowboys back to do so since Emmitt Smith in 2001 and rushed for 112 yards in the Wildcard playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks
. With the departure of Bill Parcells and the trade of his brother Thomas Jones to the New York Jets
, rumors were rampant about the possible trade of Julius in the off-season as well. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
quickly dispelled any rumors stating "I don't see that happening" and was happy with the current rotation of Dallas running backs.
Entering the final year of his contract and with new coach Wade Phillips
now in the fold, Julius had high hopes for the 2007 season
. Jones stated that perhaps he listened to former head coach Bill Parcells more than he should have, rather than relying on his own instincts. During off-season workouts, with the numerous trade talks and a strong public support for Barber to start, Julius chose to work out privately in Arizona away from the distractions in Dallas. Statistically, he had his lowest season as a professional with 164 carries for 588 yards and 2 touchdowns. Although Jones was the starting running back for the entire 16-game regular season, he had been visibly frustrated as the ratio of carries slowly started to tilt in Barber's favor. Despite openly defending Julius throughout the season, ultimately Wade Phillips decided to give Barber the start in the Divisional playoff loss to the New York Giants
On March 7, 2008, Jones agreed to a four-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks. While competing for the starting job throughout training camp, Mike Holmgren decided to give the start to runningback Maurice Morris against the Buffalo Bills in week one, but stated both backs will be used frequently. Morris was later sidelined with a knee injury and Jones ended the game with 13 carries for 45 yards. Against San Francisco in week 2, Jones received his first start of the regular season and responded with 127 yards rushing and a TD in an overtime loss to the 49ers. In week 3 against St. Louis, Julius became the first running back in Seattle to gain back-to-back 100 yard rushing games since 2005. Jones finished the day with 140 yards and a TD in a win against the Rams, just two yards shy of his former backup in Dallas, Marion Barber.