NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
To say that Marvin Jones’ career at Cal was filled with adversity might be an understatement, but that’s not what he calls it.
Whether it was an injury his freshman year, discovering he was going to be a father while still learning his playbook, or getting overshadowed by a five star recruit, ‘humble’ is a word that his father taught him, and that he uses often in describing his path from dreaming about the NFL, to training for it.
And it fits him well.
Jones began his football journey at just seven years old while living in Orange County, CA. He was always the youngest player on his Pop Warner teams, which he said later helped him transition to each next level.
“I still remember the day when my dad said he signed me up, I was jumping off the walls,” said Jones.
Jones and his family moved from Santa Ana to Fontana, CA when he was in 5th grade, but what was most important to him was that they always stuck together.
“It’s a humble setting with me and my family. We did move around a lot, but the fact remains that I was always with my family. Me being with my family and the lessons we’ve learned together has shaped me to where I am today.”
Spending so much time in that family atmosphere, Jones said that he always stayed out of trouble as a kid.
“I never got in trouble. In the Jones house you always knew right from wrong, you knew the repercussions from what you do. I was always a good kid, I always surrounded myself with friends and family and people like me.”
Jones came to Cal as a four star recruit out of Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. He had 17 offers coming out of high school including Arizona State, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon and Oregon State. By the end of his recruiting process, it was between Oregon and Cal.
“I was a guy that was going to stay in the Pac-10. I’m a So Cal guy. People like us don’t really like going away from home. I just fell in love with the atmosphere, the camaraderie that everybody had, nice weather, first class education. So I just felt home when I went to Cal.”
Just as Marvin was getting situated at Cal in his first days of fall camp, he got some life altering news. His girlfriend was pregnant and he was going to be starting his own family.
“It was definitely hard at first when I got the news. I was worrying about trying to get the plays right and do everything right and make plays to start as a true freshman because the position was wide open,” said Jones. “That was one experience that shaped who I am. It just made me more mature all around as a student athlete and a father and a player on the field.”
The family atmosphere that Marvin grew up with helped him adapt quickly to parenthood with his son Marvin III. Jones said his father always taught him to stay humble and handle responsibility.
“It’s just great, coming home everyday knowing that your little You is home. You go home and play even though you might be tired and you just want to be by yourself, but when he yells ‘Daddy’ and jumps on you, it gives you a little spark.”
“I couldn’t be prouder of Marvin. He is a great father with two beautiful little boys, a great student, a great player and a great person,” said Cal Head Coach Jeff Tedford.
Jones is in his third year living with his girlfriend and they have since added another son, Mareon. He said it was great being at Cal getting to live with his family, since it gave him something to relieve the pressure from the football field and class room.
One thing that Marvin learned from interviewing with NFL teams, is that they’re looking for stability at home. They didn’t ask him about his experience balancing football and fatherhood, but whether he was still living with his family.
Jones wound up starting his first game as a freshman at Cal, but a knee injury sidelined him for much of the remainder of the season.
“Coach (Tedford) kept me along, kept me traveling with the team and going through the whole process because he wanted me to have the experience. It was a humbling experience for me because I thought I was still one of the best wide receivers even though I wasn’t 100%.”
Having a year to learn the college game, and learn the California pro style offense from the sidelines wound up being a benefit to Jones.
Marvin found a nice rapport with his quarterback Kevin Riley in his sophomore and junior years, becoming the number one receiver on the team. In his sophomore year, Jones finished with 43 receptions, 651 yards and six touchdowns.
His junior year, his production spiked finishing with 50 receptions, 765 yards and four touchdowns. He also found true freshman and five star recruit, Keenan Allen starting across from him. Marvin took him under his wing sitting down with him every day going over game plan, route running, and different schemes they might be facing across the line of scrimmage on defense. Rather than seeing Allen, who he looks at as his “little brother,” as a threat, he knew that Keenan could help him out as a presence on the other side of the field.
Coach Tedford noticed that attention Jones was giving Allen.
“He’s a great leader for the younger players and such a great example for anyone and everyone on this football team,” said Tedford.
After Marvin’s junior year, he considered going pro, but after going over it in his head, decided that he was still too unknown in the national eye. He also saw some aspects of his game that he still needed to work on, including his physicality, getting releases off the line and getting off of press coverage.
He was also close to graduating and wanted to go through his senior experience and make it to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.