BOSTON (CBS) — Mac Jones has a knack for winning football games. He led his high school team at The Bolles School to a state championship as a senior in 2016, and then Alabama to an undefeated record and a college football title in 2020.
The Patriots are hoping that Jones does the same in New England, and one of his high school coaches is confident those winning ways will follow him to the NFL.READ MORE: Patriots Position Preview: Running Back
Wayne Belger, who was an assistant to the late Corky Rodgers at The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida when Jones was slinging passes for the Bulldogs, believes that Jones not only has the talent to succeed in the NFL, but the mental makeup as well.
“He’s not a prima donna. He’s got that good swag that you need as a quarterback and is used to being coached the way that I believe coach Belichick will coach him,” Belger told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche. “I know how we did with him and how Coach Saban did with him [at Alabama]. He’s got thick skin and is an extremely smart man — academically and also at picking up the playbook. He won’t have any problem with that. If he doesn’t make it, it won’t be because he didn’t do the right things.”
Jones led the Bulldogs to a Florida 4A title his senior season, throwing 29 touchdowns while passing for 1,532 yards. That came after he led Bolles to a state regional final during his junior year.
Belger echoed what many have said about Jones before and after he went 15th overall to the Patriots: The kid is a big-time competitor.READ MORE: Bill Belichick In Midseason Form When Asked About Stephon Gilmore, N'Keal Harry
“They call him ‘The Joker’ because he always has that grin on his face and is goofing around, but he’s a tremendous competitor inside. His whole family is an athletic family; his brothers, sisters and dad were big-time tennis players, as was Mac earlier. But he’s a competitor and you don’t see that all the time. You see his joking, jovial side, but when it came time to go he was all-in,” explained Belger.
Jones is a supremely confident kid, but he doesn’t come off as cocky. He’s also always learning and eager to find new ways to get better, both on the field and in the quarterback room.
“He wasn’t real boisterous, he was confident in himself and his ability to do things. As he got more comfortable around us his senior year, he would suggest more things that we could do. He went to an Elite 11 camp and came back with some of their stuff that we implemented with what we could do with the talent we had,” said Belger. “But he was always confident and believed in himself early on. He had that letter when he was younger that he wanted to be an NFL quarterback. I think it’s great that he has met his dreams.”
What has impressed Belger through the years is Jones’ commitment to his craft as a quarterback. Jones will do whatever it takes to be the best that he can be, even if that means he has to take a seat behind someone in the short term. He wasn’t turned off from going to Alabama despite Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa being ahead of him on the depth chart, and used that as an opportunity to learn. And when Jones finally got his chance, he had an incredible individual season and led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated record and a national title.
“He had a tremendous year, not just the National Championship Game,” said Belger. “He threw some balls that were big time throws that he made. To play at the next level at the NFL, he’s going to have to do it there as well.MORE NEWS: Bill Belichick Says 'Most' Patriots Players Have 'Probably' Received COVID-19 Vaccinations
“People ask me if I think this will go to his head. I don’t think it will,” Belger added. “He’s going to be an extremely hard worker; he’ll be the first one there and the last one to leave. He told me that he’s told coach Belichick that he’s going to live 5-10 minutes from the stadium cause he’s going to be there all the time. I think coach Belichick liked that.”