BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – “My biggest thing was to be a part of something bigger than myself, to be a part of a team.”
For Nick Jones, a West Seneca West grad, his first taste of team was not on the high school football field.
“I tried to play football but it didn’t work out,” Jones said with a laugh.
Instead, right out of high school, he joined the Marine Corps and spent five years traveling the world and protecting our country.
“I went to Afghanistan in 2010 and we just tried to win the hearts and minds of the locals there from the Taliban. We laughed, we cried and you just wake up every morning like ‘I can’t believe this is really happening.'”
Nick played football with his fellow Marines, and learned that catching is something he is pretty good at. When he returned home from his tour of duty he enrolled at Erie County Community College and tried out for their football team.
“I had a decent year for my first time playing football and tight end. I started getting letters from big schools and my mind was racing! I couldn’t believe it was all happening.”
Jones settled on UTEP but, his stay there didn’t last long. The reality of playing college football took a toll on him physically and mentally.
“I thought it was over for me, I thought this dream was ending. I got in my own head and I never want to go to that place again.”
A fellow Marine encouraged Nick to return to the football field, and he enrolled at Buffalo State. It turned out to be the perfect fit. Last month he was selected to the National Bowl, a showcase for the top division II and III athletes in the country.
But, that isn’t where this story ends, he has been invited to the Tropical Bowl and will compete against Division I talent, some who have been invited to the combine.
“It is a huge game for me and for my career.”
And from there the fate of Nick’s football career will rest in the hands of scouts. He knows no matter what happens, he will always be a part of a team.
“Transitioning from the Marine Corps to civilian life is hard in general, and being a part of a football team kind of helped me transition. The two biggest things to be is mental and physical health so, I just want to stay positive and keep working towards my dreams.”