Oct. 22, 2012
The University of Houston’s own Crawford Jones already has his career plans in place. The redshirt senior quarterback recently won a contest put on by the Astros to be the next radio announcer. The story of how he even got to this point in his life is remarkable.
“I started off as a kid playing baseball,” Jones said. “I played year round and kind of got bored with it, so I started playing basketball and football, but basketball was my favorite.”
This might seem surprising, considering that the young Crawford Jones would grow up to become a Division I football player.
Jones is from a small town in north Texas, between Fort Worth and Denton. It’s called Keller, and it’s home to about 40,000 people. He originally started off in a private high school, Fort Worth Christian, with roughly 70 people in his class. Jones’ prospects of getting college looks weren’t what they should be.
“I wanted to play football in college which was really why I transferred high schools. We played in South Lake’s district, so I figured even though I’d get beat up on I’d get noticed.”
Jones was determined, but it wasn’t an easy decision transferring to Keller High School. Without making this switch, he may have not been noticed by the University of Houston under the Briles regime.
“I was originally recruited by Coach Briles and his staff. I had been talking to them a little bit but then they left. Kevin Sumlin came in and I honestly didn’t know where I was going,” Jones said.
Whether or not he would receive an offer from Houston was up in the air. “When signing day came, I didn’t know where I was going.”
He then received a call that would change his mind.
“Levine called me and said he wanted me to consider coming here. I starting thinking and thought well, I’ve been to Houston and I like it, my granddad went to UH, I’ve watched them play for the last few years.”
Eventually, after many considerations, Jones decided to attend the University of Houston as a walk-on.
Fast-forward four years, and Jones is in his final season as a Cougar. It’s also the final season that the Cougars will be members of Conference USA, and even more significant for Jones, the final season in Robertson Stadium.
“I jokingly say that I picked the worst time to come here,” Jones said. “Unfortunately I don’t get to enjoy the Big East or playing in a new stadium, but It’s really cool that my last game ever will be the last game played in The Rob. It’s coming full circle.”
This season is special to Jones on many levels, maybe the most of those was being granted a scholarship by head coach Tony Levine.
When Levine finally let Jones know that they had given him a scholarship for his final season, words couldn’t describe his joy.
“I stood up and hugged him, I don’t even know if I said anything,” Jones said. “I immediately went and called my mom and dad, and they couldn’t have been more thrilled. I just wanted it for my parents so they didn’t have to pay for school anymore, but they were really happy for me because they know how hard I work, no matter what.”
That says a lot about Jones’ character on the field, and even more so about Levine’s character off of it.
“He is probably the best coach I’ve ever been around. He’s a genuinely good man, he’s always straightforward, upfront and honest,” Jones said.
Jones’ plans to graduate in December, and after that, it’s on to the big leagues. Starting next season, he will be the newest member of the broadcast crew for the Houston Astros.
When the contest was announced over the summer, Jones’ didn’t even know about it.
“I worked at Sports Talk 790 over the summer with Matt Jackson, another UH alum, and Matt Thomas. An intern who I was working with asked me if I was going to tryout for the Astros thing,” Jones said. “I had no clue what he was talking about. It was literally two days before the deadline to sign up so I checked it out, I remember thinking that if nothing else it would be good experience and I’d maybe be able to make some connections.”
Jones got a time slot for his first interview that fit perfectly between his two-a-day practices. After making it through round after round, it finally started to hit him that he might have a shot.
“Somehow I made it through to the final two. It was one of those things that I never really felt pressure in because I had done it for fun from the start with nothing to lose. Once I made it to the final two, then I felt the pressure because I really wanted it.”
Jones came out successful and won the contest. Through the whole experience, Jones felt at ease when most would have been the most stressed: during the live broadcast in the final stage.
“It was really great working with Dave Raymond and Brett Dolan in the final stage of the contest. They were both really helpful and would tell me during breaks what we were talking about next. That was where I felt the most comfortable.”
Jones definitely sees himself long-term in broadcasting. Ask him if competing for a job spot is a lot like playing football and he won’t hesitate to tell you that the two have a lot in common.
“It’s a lot like in sports, you have to work your way up from the bottom,” Jones said. “I think there are a lot of parallels between the two. I’d love to do this long-term. The great thing about sports is that it’s always changing, there’s always some big breaking news story.”