Adams State back finds spot with Diesel
06/07/02 Kearney Cyberhub
Right Hub photo by Rick Tucker
Tri-City Diesel running back Sherman Jones looks for an opening while a trio of Omaha Beef defenders close in. Jones eluded the tacklers to score in the Diesel's 26-19 victory on May 10.
KEARNEY — Sherman Jones' old college teammates at Adams State might call him a turncoat if they could see him now.
That's because Jones has turned in his Grizzlies uniform for the green and silver garb of the Tri-City Diesel.
Worse yet, he plays with a bunch of former Lopers.
"It was a little different at first," Jones said of his new teammates. "But they are all good guys. You never think too well of guys you played against until you find yourself on the same team."
In other words, the rivalries that Jones and his University of Nebraska at Kearney counterparts shared in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference are a thing of the past.
They are on the same team now, and working toward the same goal — getting the Diesel into the NIFL playoffs. To achieve that goal the Diesel must defeat their four remaining opponents, starting with Lincoln on Saturday.
"We have to win out," Jones said. "They are supposed to be the best team in our league, but I don't think so. I don't think they have played anybody yet."
Ironically, Jones' role in the Diesel's schemes skyrocketed when former UNK running back Dale Van Housen broke his collarbone in a Week 9 loss to Rapid City.
Jones went from a special teams player and a part-time running back to the Diesel's main horse in the backfield.
"I'm just trying to fill some shoes, and Dale left some big shoes to fill," Jones said. "I just want to pick up the slack."
Jones displayed his ability to "pick up the slack" with a 26-yard breakaway versus Sioux Falls two weeks ago. Jones scored on the play and the Diesel went on to claim a 51-44 victory that kept their playoff hopes alive.
"The play worked perfectly and I just had to beat one guy," he said. "He tried to arm-tackle me, and you can't do that at this level and expect the runner to go down."
Tri-City coach Leland Skeen said most defenders will tackle nothing but air if they depend on their arms to bring Jones down in the open field.
"He is definitely a north and south runner," Skeen said. "He is not going to run around anybody, but he is going to get the yards up the middle. He is basically a workhorse.
"Some runners tend to dance once they hit the hole, but he just stays in the thick of things and takes what the defense gives him. … He is not scared to put his nose into it."
Jones, a native of San Jose, Calif., hopes to ride his running abilities to the next level of professional football. That's why he showed up at the Diesel's open tryout during the off season.
"I felt like my pursuit wasn't over with yet," he said. "When you go to a small school, you don't get that many looks no matter how well you play.
"I'm just trying to expand my portfolio as they say. I figure you have to start somewhere, and I was told this is a good league to get looked at."
If the NFL doesn't call his name in the coming years, Jones has a degree in Physical Eduction to fall back on. He he would like to head back home to California someday, but says the schools there don't empazie physical education like they do in the Midwest.
"I would like to get into the exercise and sports management part of it," Jones said. "It's nice out here, but nothing is like home. It's all about adjusting to the environment. I like meeting new people, and I'll go wherever it is the most lucrative for me."