For Sam Houston State receiver Darnell Jones, the tattoos prominently scattered over his body define who he is.
The junior wide receiver has over 70 tattoos spread throughout his body, each having some significance and telling some different aspect of his life.
“It tells my life story,” Jones said. “My family, anyone who has died anything that has happened is here.”
The number of tattoos is ever increasing and players and coaches alike come up to him asking about them.
“I thought he had 41,” fellow wide receiver Justin Wells said of Jones’ body art. “That was the last number he told me.”
Jones said that even Head Coach Todd Whitten has approached him, asking on occasion if he had gotten any additional tattoos.
Nicknamed “D-Nell” by his teammates, Jones has the popular bible verse “John 3:16” inked on his arm because he says it is his favorite bible passage. Jones also has Psalms 23 displayed over his heart.
“It’s in memory of my grandmother,” Jones said. “She died my senior year in high school during the middle of a game. It is to remind me of her.”
At Galveston Ball High School, Jones was a two-sport athlete, excelling in not only football, but basketball as well. His prior experience playing football was at the middle school level, where he didn’t play as a receiver, but rather at quarterback. When Jones first came to high school, his initial intention wasn’t to play football, but to commit himself to basketball. However, Jones says when a friend asked him to come out and play football, the coaches saw him and put him on the team as a wide receiver. The result – an outstanding high school career that gave him the opportunity to continue playing football at the collegiate level by receiving a full scholarship to play at Sam Houston State University.
One of Jones’ high school coaches, Jonathon Cooper, was an all-American wide receiver at SHSU from 1997-2001, and it was he who told Jones about some of the positives the Bearkats’ offense had for him, such as their propensity to throw the ball a lot, which helped convince Jones that being a Bearkat was the right choice for him.
As a wide receiver, Jones said he tries to mirror his game after Pro-Bowl wide receivers Santana Moss of the Washington Redskins and Randy Moss of the New England Patriots. He says he admires Santana’s game because he can relate to not only Moss’ size, but also his speed and quickness, while with Randy he tries to replicate his ability to go out and catch the deep ball.
Yet Jones tries to carry the mentality of Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson, known for his end zone celebrations and confidence.
“He [Johnson] has that mentality that “no one can guard me,” Jones said. “We all come out here try and have that mentality as wide receivers, that no one can guard us.”