He’s a cornerback. He’s a kick returner. He’s a punt returner. And sometimes, he’s even a wide receiver. Houston’s Marcus Jones was many things in college, and now he’s an NFL Draft pick.
Jones’ NFL dreams came to fruition when he was selected 85th overall by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2022 draft. He is the 10th cornerback off the board and the second Cougar to be selected, joining defensive lineman Logan Hall — the first pick of day two.
Jones was as electrifying of a playmaker as there was during the 2021 college football season. Due to his excellence in a multitude of areas, he was honored with the Paul Hornung Award for the nation’s most versatile player. Depending on the selector, he earned First All-American status as both a cornerback and return specialist.
Jones’ signature moment during Houston’s wildly successful 2021 campaign transpired on Halloween weekend when a ranked, unbeaten SMU team invaded town. With 30 seconds remaining in a tie game, Jones returned a kickoff 100 yards for the game-winning touchdown, allowing the Cougars to vault into the AP Poll for the first time since 2018. Houston rode that momentum to an undefeated AAC record and ultimately finished No. 17 in the final AP Poll.
SMU CHOSE TO KICK TO MARCUS JONES !!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING ???— The Transfer Portal CFB (@TPortalCFB) October 31, 2021
MARCUS JONES THE BEST SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER IN THE NATION pic.twitter.com/ttMZNe09Bl
That wasn’t Jones’ only spectacular moment on special teams. Kickoff and punt return touchdowns became an regularity every time he took the field. Over the course of his college career at Troy and Houston, he registered nine special teams touchdowns, including four house calls in a six-week span last fall.
As a cornerback, Jones was equally as impressive. He tied for fourth in the FBS in interceptions in 2021, picking off five passes in a four-week span. Over the course of his college career, he snagged nine interceptions and deflected 31 passes. He even dabbled at wide receiver last season, catching 10 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Jones is the first Cougar defensive back selected since Isaiah Johnson in 2019. He joins a Patriots cornerback room which features Jalen Mills and recently reacquired Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler as the projected starters. While his status on the defensive depth chart is yet to be determined, Jones should provide an immediate spark on special teams considering the Patriots lost their All-Pro primary return specialist Gunner Olszewski in free agency.