Sept. 28, 2011
2011 Cal Football: Information Guide
By Kyle McRae
The most fitting nickname for Cal senior wide receiver Marvin Jones might just be Mr. Reliable, something Jones has proved on the field by having started and caught at least one pass in each of the team's last 29 games, posting back-to-back seasons as the Golden Bears' leading receiver in 2009 and '10, and rarely dropping a ball. He's also one of Cal's top prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft.
But that's just the beginning.
Rewind to three years ago to August of 2008, and Jones was one of Cal's top incoming freshmen, expecting to make a bid for significant playing time in his first season in Berkeley. It was only the second day of training camp when the fresh-eyed and talented 18-year-old baby-faced youngster was forced to grow up in a hurry.
"Jaz called and said she was pregnant," Jones remembered about the call from Jazmyn Mathis, his girlfriend back home in the Southern California town of Fontana.
It wasn't long until Jones was sitting in the office of head coach Jeff Tedford.
"I went up to meet him and we basically talked about the responsibility this would bring and the level of maturity I would have to have to be successful," Jones said. "Then, he told me I needed to call my Dad."
That call to Marvin Sr. ended up being one of the most important moments in Jones' young life.
"I was in tears when I called my Dad, and I said `Daddy, Jaz is pregnant,'" Jones recalled. "I told him I didn't want him to be disappointed in me, and he said `I'll never be disappointed in you.' Our conversation brought my spirits up. My Dad's acceptance was very important. In today's society you see a lot of people that once somebody gets pregnant and they're young, their parents don't support them. That's definitely not the case with my family. It was important to have his acceptance."
Jones walked out of Tedford's office with a smile on his face and has been wearing it ever since.
"I'm not the one to be praised for it," Tedford said. "His father is the one to be praised for it because his father obviously handled it the right way by being supportive of him."
"The No. 1 thing is to take care of your responsibilities," Marvin Sr. said. "I asked him why he was crying and he said `because I didn't want you to be disappointed in me.' I told him I loved him and the only time I would be disappointed in him is if he wasn't a man and didn't take care of his responsibilities."
Back in the present, Jones is certainly taking care of his responsibilities, both on the field and off. His story is not a tale of how difficult and tough life is to be a young man with a child. Quite the opposite - it's a story about a young family embracing and enjoying their lives together, working hard and doing well.
The setting for the opening narrative is a cozy two-bedroom apartment in Cal's family housing complex, University Vil-lage, where Marvin and Jazmyn live along with their now two-and-a-half year-old son, Marvin III. A walk into their home reveals toys scattered on the floor, an indoor basket for some hoops action, cartoons playing on the television, a family scrapbook, and Jazmyn hanging out in the kitchen that she claims to be her domain and where Marvin admits the best dish he makes is a "mean bowl of cereal."
You'll also see a young father enjoying time with his son and simply being Dad. You'll see boys being boys, maybe wrestling or tickling each other, but there's no doubt that the older of the two is definitely now a man.
In addition to his success on the field, and as a doting father and boyfriend at home, Jones is on track to graduate from Cal in December in only three-and-a-half years with a bachelor's degree in African American studies. He's one of the team's most liked and respected players by teammates, coaches, staff, media, fans and just about anyone else who comes into contact with him.
"Over the years, he has really turned the corner and has become unbelievably reliable in every phase of his life," Tedford said. "He is reliable in his athletic life, his academic life and his personal life. He's a great leader for the younger players and such a great example for anyone and everyone on this football team. For him to succeed in every phase of his life like he has is such a tribute to who he is.
"I couldn't be prouder of Marvin," Tedford added. "He is a great father with a beautiful little boy, a great student, a great player and a great person." And Jones is doing it all with that unforgettable smile, while embracing and enjoying his life.
"I like knowing I have a little me running around at home," Jones said. "Whenever I come home, or he and Jaz are picking me up, he's just waiting for me to say something or tickle him. When we come home, he runs up the stairs saying `Daddy, Daddy,' and I've just got to chase him."
Despite all the fun and good times, Jones admits there are challenges and has some advice for other young fathers.
"Stick with it and take care of your responsibilities," Jones emphasized. "Embrace something special, which is being a family with your child. Even if you're young with a child, that doesn't mean you can't still do what you want to do in life. Some people think just because you're a young parent that you need to drop out of school. You don't need to do that. If you do, you're setting yourself back and not giving that child what he really needs or setting a good example. Stay in school and get your education. It's not's as hard as you think."
Jones may not consider it to be difficult, but that's not to say Marvin and Jazmyn haven't already put in plenty of hard work to continue being successful while raising a young son.
Last football season, their day typically started at 5:30 a.m., when Jazmyn would wake up with Marvin to make his morning oatmeal before dropping him off at the team's practice by 6:30. She would return home with Marvin III and have him to his day care by 8:15 before rushing off to classes at Berkeley City College. In the evening, Jazmyn, a Licensed Vocational Nurse, would pick up both of her boys - one from day care and the other from Cal - before the three would return home for dinner and family time.
"Jazmyn's support has been vital," Jones said. "She's been with me through thick and thin. She is highly supportive."
With a good woman by his side and the couple expecting a second boy this November, the obvious question rings: When's the wedding?"
"It will happen," a blushing Jones said as he blamed the tint of color in his face on the warmth of the room. "I can't really get in depth with that. Whenever it happens, it's going to be a big surprise."
Not for anybody who knows Marvin Jones.