“Since I was a kid growing up in a family with a strong football tradition, I've always dreamed of playing football in college and hoped one day I'd make it to the NFL,” Jones said in an email sent to a number of media outlets. “After many discussions with my family and [LSU] coach [Les] Miles, I feel it's the right time for me to enter the NFL draft.”
On the gridiron in 2009, Jones finished his first full year as a starter at free safety as one of the Tigers’ top performers with 74 stops, three interceptions and six broken up passes.
As a pitcher last spring, Jones helped lead the LSU baseball team to the College World Series title – the first championship for LSU since 2000.
“Chad and I talked about his decision before he went to Orlando, and we have exchanged texts since then,” said head coach Paul Mainieri. “I support him, because what we do in my business is have a loyalty to the kids. You want to see them fulfill their dream, and you would like to think you have a chance to help him fill that dream.
“I am disappointed that I am not coaching him any longer, because he helped us win a National Championship, and I am grateful for the contributions he has made,” he added. “If he decides this is the best for him, I am behind him.”
While Jones appears headed for a future in the professional ranks, Mainieri maintained that since Jones has not hired an agent, the chance for a return is still in the cards.
“I think there is a possibility that he might return,” Mainieri said. “We’ll just have to see.”
If Jones does not return, the legacy left behind is one Mainieri hopes Tiger fans won’t soon forget.
“He is one of two athletes in the history of the BCS and baseball to win National Championships in both sports,” he said. “That’s a pretty good legacy. Obviously he developed and improved in both sports, and Les and myself created an environment where he was able to experience a lot of success.”