Even when he was still playing A-back for Georgia Tech and working his way to a management degree, Roddy Jones felt a tug to try broadcasting. He had a ready-made advisor in Wes Durham, then Tech’s broadcasting voice and now the college football play-by-play man for Fox Sports South.
“He said two things,” Jones said Wednesday. “One, you can do it for a long time, but two, I think you’ll love it.”
Durham’s insights have proven prescient. Last week, Jones’ new job as sideline reporter for the ACC Network became official after one year as the analyst on Tech radio broadcasts alongside Brandon Gaudin. He’ll work alongside Tim Brant and Dave Archer, with his debut at the Wofford-Clemson game Sept. 5. (He’ll have Wake Forest-Syracuse in week two and Northwestern-Duke in week three.)
“It was kind of unexpected, but definitely it was something I had to jump on when I had the chance,” Jones said. “It’s a cool opportunity for sure.”
Jones’ first job out of college was managing an AT&T store, and he still has his feet in the real world, so to speak, but the possibility of a career in broadcasting has become more realistic with this advancement.
“I’ve been fortunate,” Jones said.
He took his first steps in the process calling baseball games on campus radio station WREK, which led to ESPN3 broadcasts and ultimately the analyst job last fall.
“Honestly, I didn’t know how much I would love it until I started doing the baseball games,” Jones said. “I love baseball – it’s my first love. The fire was lit for baseball, but it really started burning big time after doing this year of football after doing the spring game and pro day. Just getting back in the atmosphere, it was great.”
The benefits of the ACC Network job are obvious – the opportunity to gain experience in a new role, a larger audience and experience in front of a camera. He said he was eager to work with Archer, who is also the analyst for Falcons games (alongside Durham) and has a fan in Jones.
“I’ve just always enjoyed his takes on football in particular, but everything, really,” Jones said. “So, yeah, I’m very excited to not only work with him but learn from him. I think I’m most excited about sitting down and watching film with him. He’s got a lot of knowledge that I’m hoping to get a lot of.”
As far as challenges, there’s learning the technical aspects of the job, becoming familiar with all the teams in the ACC (and their opponents) and figuring out his role in broadcasts. Beyond the standard sideline roles – halftime interviews and injury reports – he hopes to contribute game analysis from his on-field perspective.
The job came about, Jones said, after an informal conversations with ACC Network officials in the spring. Nothing was available at the time, but the network came back to Jones in the summer with an offer.
It’s not hard to envision this job becoming a steppingstone for Jones. He’s insightful, communicates exceedingly well, knows the game and comes across as likable and funny. Jones is eager to see where it leads.
Said Jones, “I would love to turn this into a career.”
Tech in kickoff game update
The official announcement of the 2017 Chick-fil-A Kickoff game between Alabama and Florida State last week has caused some question about the status of the reported game at the Falcons new stadium the same year between Tech and Tennessee. It’s my understanding that the game is still in the works, and that details are being finalized in the contract.
High marks for Heppler
Golf coach Bruce Heppler received a rather considerable compliment in a survey of golf coaches conducted by Golfweek magazine. Asked to name the best coach in the country, Heppler received the third most points, behind Illinois coach Mike Small and Alabama’s Jay Seawell. Eight ACC titles in the past 10 years, five top-10 NCAA finishes in the past six years and a spotless graduation record are hard to argue with.
He’s without question the most successful coach on Tech’s campus and easily one of its best in school history across all sports.
Tech at the Peachtree
This isn’t entirely related to Tech athletics, but one of our interns this summer in the sports department, Matthew Bain, wrote a great story about a 90-year-old Tech grad who was the oldest finisher in the AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4. I highly recommend it.
Speaking of Tech and the Peachtree, former Tech wide receiver Kevin Cone and his father Ronnie ran it, as is their tradition. So did forward Quinton Stephens. I saw him before the race by Lenox Mall; he said he’d decided to run it the previous night with family members and was looking for a number. He evidently got one, as I saw him running down Peachtree later that morning.
ACC Kickoff next Monday
One of the first hints of the season arrives this Monday with the ACC Kickoff, a media-days event held this year in Pinehurst, N.C. Coach Paul Johnson will attend with quarterback Justin Thomas and cornerback D.J. White. In the four years I’ve attended, Tech players and Johnson typically haven’t received a considerable amount of attention. I’ll be curious to see the degree to which that changes this year following the Jackets’ 11-win season and the heightened expectations for 2015.
White was announced Tuesday as one of 197 nominees for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which recognizes college football players with a superior commitment to community service and volunteerism. White is a member of the Tech student-athlete advisory board and participates in the Tech chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He was one of 19 Tech athletes to go to the Dominican Republic in May on a service trip and has also served in service activities in the Atlanta area for children and the homeless.