Stephenville High School senior Easton Jones isn’t letting his latest injury end his sports career. He’s just shifting gears.
The three-sport standout made a dramatic return from an elbow injury in 2017 to finish off his third straight year as the starting quarterback on the Yellow Jackets’ football team. He later signed a letter-of-intent to attend Tyler Junior College and play football there.
Stem cell treatment on his right elbow got him through the 2017 football season with amazing results, when he helped lead coach Greg Winder’s Yellow Jackets reach the Class 4A, Div. I football state semifinals.
Jones earned the District 3-4A, Div. I football Offensive Most Valuable Player award for 2017. While leading the Jackets to a 12-3 overall record, including four playoff victories, Jones completed 61 percent of his passes for 3,083 yards with 35 touchdowns and only nine interceptions.
It was nothing short of amazing, considering that at one point before the season began it was feared he would never play again.
“It didn’t bother me, not once, during football season,” Jones said of the elbow.
Jones also decided to try to return for his senior year of baseball at SHS this spring. Unfortunately his hopes were shaken when he felt pain in the elbow again during preseason preparations as a pitcher.
He returned to TMI Sports Medicine in Arlington to consult with its director, Dr. Keith Meister, who is also head team physician of the Texas Rangers. Jones had elbow surgery on March 20 to repair the damage to his torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL).
Jones’ take on being sidelined from sports for a second time is contrary to those who may view the stem cell treatment as a failure.
“I see it as a complete success,” Jones said, noting the intense feeling of playing in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and being within one win of reaching the state championship game “with my brothers.”
Jones learned that the motion for throwing a baseball puts stress on the UCL, while throwing a football does not.
“That day I re-tore it, it was kind of tight,” Jones recalled. “I picked up a football and I could throw it perfectly fine. Throwing a football doesn’t put as much stress on that ligament.”
Jones informed the Tyler Junior College football staff of his situation about three months ago.
“When I found out I was going to have to have surgery, I called Tyler’s coach,” said Jones, who earned three SHS varsity letters in basketball, as well as in football and baseball. “I didn’t want them wasting scholarship money on somebody who couldn’t play.”
Jones said he spoke to assistant coach Garrett Kreamer, who works with the quarterbacks at Tyler.
“He was pretty upset because they had hoped I’d win the starting job,” Jones said. “He understood it was the right thing to do, and he would keep me in his thoughts and prayers. He was more disappointed that I wouldn’t get to come. Of course, it’s a big change. I had my future set up to fulfilling my dream of becoming a Division I quarterback.”
It was a tough blow for Jones to accept, but during the process he learned to rely on his Christian faith to deal with the disappointments.
“Of course, I had been through it before,” said Jones, who noted that he became more serious about his faith during the time when he was sidelined early in the football season.
“It was like God sending a message. It was an eye-opener,” Jones said. “I just have to stay faithful and humble, and know God’s plan is greater than mine, and I’m just going to try to fulfill his plan the best I can.”
Jones decided to enroll in Ranger College’s Erath County Center in Stephenville this fall as he continues to recover from the surgery. He said he will be taking nine hours of classes, working on the basic classes toward what eventually will be a major in kinesiology.
“I want to be a firefighter, or I might go get a fire science degree,” Jones said.
Jones said he wants to go through rehabilitation on his elbow and play college baseball.
In what turned out to be his final season of baseball at SHS, Jones was the district’s 2017 Pitcher of the Year, and he was voted to the Texas Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A all-state team after helping lead coach Justin Swenson’s Yellow Jackets to a 23-9-2 season mark.
He doesn’t yet know where his next stop may be, but he intends to be playing baseball — somewhere.
“All I have planned out is next fall,” Jones said, noting that taking no more than nine hours at Ranger College keeps him from losing a year of college sports eligibility. “The plan now is to take nine (hours) in the fall, and nine in the spring.”
Jones said he still loves football just as much as baseball, but came to a decision on which one held a brighter future for him.
“I want to try and pitch somewhere. I’m not going to play football anymore,” Jones said. “It will be fun to wake up on Saturday morning and not have to limp to the refrigerator. I feel I can play baseball a lot longer than I can play football. My parents (Troy and Pam Jones) back me, whatever I do.
“I just love sports. I’m just a competitor. I love to win.”