Emmett Jones and Kliff Kingsbury: Building One Relationship at a Time

In all of the pre-National Signing Day work, we all took note of Emmett Jones being hired away from South Oak Cliff to be a part of the player personnel department for Texas Tech. The result was the commitment of Jamile Johnson and J.F. Thomas and that’s about all we know. There’s actually quite a bit more about Jones that we should know.

Coaching Tree

Jones hasn’t had the time to develop his own coaching tree, but he’s part of a much larger coaching tree that’s situated in Dallas. Let’s follow the dots. Jones was the offensive coordinator for Skyline under legendary coach, Reginald Samples. The same Reginald Samples that was hired by Duncanville just a month or so ago. Samples was the long-time coach for Skyline and Dallas ISD in general. From 2004 through 2012, Jones was the offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Skyline, learning from one of Dallas County’s best.

Jones then accepted the job at South Oak Cliff for two years, 2013 and 2014. Jones went 30-8 in his three seasons at South Oak Cliff and now, Jones in in Lubbock.

Jones Builds Relationships

What we do know, based on Thomas and Johnson’s commitment is that there’s something there in terms of a relationship for both players to lead them to follow Jones to Lubbock. We can’t deny the connection, but there’s a good reason why we shouldn’t. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury mentioned on National Signing Day that Jones was big on player relationships.

“He’s big in the player personnel side of things, a mentorship role,” Kingsbury said of Jones. “He’ll help on the offensive side as well. His main deal is a mentorship role.

But it wasn’t this caught my attention, it was the DMN’s Brad Townsend article about J.F. Thomas, but more than that, it’s about the relationship between Thomas and Jones that’s incredibly important here. In fact, the story focuses on Thomas’ ailing mother, but it’s the support staff that Jones helped create for Thomas is incredibly important. No ulterior motives, just a coach taking care of his players.

“I just told her to get better soon,” he said, voice cracking and tears suddenly streaming down his cheeks. “And I told her I wanted her to make a football game.”

Recalling those painful moments, Thomas sat in the office of South Oak Cliff football coach Emmett Jones. Before another word could be said, Jones gently interrupted.

“We’ve got you,” he told Thomas. “Understand what I’m saying? We’re with you.”

It wasn’t just this theoretical support, but actual support, it was Jones calling Thomas to go to school every day. Of course, Thomas was a star player, but Jones doesn’t have to do any of this. It’s just helping another human being:

It became routine each weekday morning for Coach Jones, while taking son Emmett III and daughter Emily to school, to give Thomas a wake-up phone call. It would then become Thomas’ responsibility to phone Jones the moment he arrived at school.

Thomas said the moral support and encouragement he received allowed him to not only persevere off the field, but flourish on it.

DMN’s Corbett Smith wrote that relationships are king as college programs are hiring successful high school coaches:

“For those guys to leave home for four years, it’s like going back home,” South Oak Cliff recruiting coordinator R.J. Bond said. “They’ve got a comfort level with Coach Jones. … It’s a little special to have someone who can look out for you, keep you on that straight path when you are away from home so you can get that college degree.”

It really shouldn’t be a surprise to think that relationships are king. It’s true in pretty much any walk of life and that includes recruiting high school players. It’s not about the relationship between the successful high school coach that’s the most important. It’s also the relationship between Kingsbury and Jones. Kingsbury willing to give Jones an opportunity. And that trust turns into other trusted relationships. These things build on top of each other.


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