June Jones: 'I've taken chances on guys like him before'
Posted by: Chris Vannini on December 26, 2012
Monday's Hawaii Bowl was a homecoming for June Jones.
Jones coached at Hawaii from 1999-2007 before leaving for SMU. Monday was the second time the Mustangs reached the Hawaii Bowl under Jones, but he would like to play his former team in it at some point.
"I thought when I went to SMU, it has just been bad timing. When we've been good, UH has struggled," he said after beating Fresno State. "When we were not there, UH made the bowl. I thought that, when we put this together, when UH is bowl eligible, they play at home because the crowd will be here. One day, I know if SMU and UH play here, we'll probably sell the stadium out, so that's a good thing."
The star of the game was SMU senior defensive end Margus Hunt from Estonia. Hunt finished with three tackles for loss, two sacks, three QB hits and two forced fumbles. He has actually been at SMU since 2007 as part of the track & field team, but economic problems at home resulted in him moving to a football scholarship, Jones explained after the game.
"Margus was a junior world record holder in the throws, but Estonia was not going to renew his scholarship to SMU because they're having a downturn in their economy over there," Jones said. "(Track coach Dave Wollman) knew that if he couldn't be put on football scholarship, he wasn't going to be able to stay at SMU.
"What happened was, we worked him out, he ran, we looked at him, talked to him. I think you guys know I've taken chances on guys like him before. It was not hard for me to see that world-class athlete that can run like that, has strength like that, arm length, I could teach him how to play football. The first scrimmage we had, we put him in. The only thing I didn't know was if he'd be tough enough.
"The first play, we ran at trap at him and hit him real hard, and he wanted to fight. Immediately, I said, 'We may have a player here.' He's one of those guys, so that was good."
Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org