Rams grab Alabama center with closet full of trophies

News-DemocratApril 27, 2013 

— Center Barrett Jones, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams, was such a highly decorated player at Alabama that he doesn't have room to display all of his trophies.

As a junior, Jones won the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman, the Wuerffel Trophy as the player who best combines community service with academic achievement and the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best lineman in the Southeastern Conference.

Jones added the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center and the William V. Campbell Award (commonly called the Academic Heisman) as the nation's top student athlete in football to his collection of hardware as a senior.

"We have a closet,'' Jones said when asked if he had large trophy room at home. "I do have a lot of trophies, but I don't really celebrate a lot of trophies. That's not why I played football. I play for the love of the game, and I play to win. I've been fortunate to win a lot, and I feel like I'm a winner. That's the kind of attitude I am going to bring to St. Louis.''

The 6-foot-4, 306-pound Jones certainly knows all about winning.

The Crimson Tide had a 61-6 record and won three national championships during Jones' five years (he received a medical red-shirt after appearing in three games as a true freshman) at the school.

"Winning is important to me, no doubt,'' Jones said. "I think from talking to Coach (Jeff) Fisher and talking to some of the other coaches, winning is something is very important to this franchise.

"I definitely think they are headed in the right direction. I'm excited to help them get there. When I first came to Alabama, they were 7-6 the year before I got there. Not that I somehow turned it around, but me and a lot of other guys helped to turn it around.''

Jones started at left tackle, right guard and center. He provides both versatility and depth to the interior of the Rams' offensive line.

"He'll come in and compete inside,'' Fisher said. "What he does almost immediately is give you a comfort level knowing that you've got a guy who if (he's) not a starter, he can back up multiple positions and go in when something happens.''

Jones suffered a Lisfranc injury in the SEC Championship game, but he played in Alabama's 42-14 win over Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game. He's still recovering from foot surgery.

"I'm feeling good, and I should be back pretty soon,'' Jones said.

The Rams ended up with only three picks on the final day of the draft.

They took Miami cornerback Brandon McGee in the fifth round. Then they traded both of their sixth-round picks to the Houston Texans to take Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy in the fifth round.

So the Rams were done drafting by 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

"He was one of the last guys on our board that we were really, really jacked about,'' Rams General Manager Les Snead said of Stacy. "The rest was going to be people we liked, but not jacked about. At that point of time, we said, 'Let's go get him.'''

The 5-8, 216-pound Stacy was third in the SEC with 1,141 yards rushing as a senior. He's the only player in Vanderbilt history to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons and holds school career records of 3,143 yards and 30 touchdowns.

"Zac is a very explosive runner,'' Fisher said. "He's smart, he's good out of the backfield, he's a pass protector. He's a complete back. He's a strong inside kind of power runner who gives us a change of pace.''

Steven Jackson, the Rams' all-time leading rusher, signed with the Atlanta Falcons during free agency. Stacy joins a stable of young running backs that includes two draft picks from last year in Isaiah Pead and Darryl Richardson and Terrance Ganaway.

"You can't have too many of these guys,'' Fisher said. "We're looking for Isaiah to take a step, and Darryl continuing to improve and Terrance. This was a guy we felt had a chance to make some plays for us.''

McGee is a speedster who was clocked at 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He has experience on special teams as both a returner and a gunner on coverage units.

Fisher said he expects McGee to fill the role that Bradley Fletcher, who signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles during the offseason.

"We're looking forward to him having an opportunity to come in and fill in at the fourth corner spot and also pick up where Fletch left off last year as an outstanding special teams player,'' Fisher said.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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