UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure and former Compton (Calif) High School coach Calvin Bryant chatted with Press-Gazette Media this past week about new Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones, the 26th-pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
McClure recently completed his sixth year working on the staff, but his first coaching the defensive line. He played a hand in recruiting and previously coached Jones on special teams prior to this season.
On McClure’s defensive line, the 6-foot-3, 283-pound Jones registered 62 tackles (45 solo) with 19 tackles for a loss and 6½ sacks as a senior.
Bryant, who coached at Compton from 2005-11, played a hand in Jones coming out for football his sophomore year and begged his mother, Shondra Hall, for Jones to remain at the school when the family moved to Los Angeles his junior year.
How coachable was Jones?
“He’s a great young man. He’s a high-character guy. Everyone thinks just because he’s from Compton, he’s got a chip on his shoulder, but he really doesn’t. He’s got a big personality and a big smile, and he’s certainly a great young man.”
“He’s so coachable. He’s like a sponge. Everything you say he really soaks up. It was great to see him develop and certainly I thought his football IQ really increased over this last year and his just overall knowledge of what offense are doing and what their philosophies are and how they’re trying to action the defense that we run and he really liked that. He really liked the cheese match that goes on.”
What did you like about him out of high school?
“He has the stature that you’re looking for a defensive end even when he was coming out of Compton. Certainly, he had the athletic ability. He had the burst. His technique was certainly raw and he was an unfinished product, but we saw a lot of potential in Datone when we were recruiting him.”
What were your first impressions of him coming out of Compton High School?
“We saw how mature he was and knew his mom was the rock of the family, and she was very supportive. I think that was one of the attractions for his mom at UCLA was our stress on academics at UCLA and how serious we were, and the prestige of a UCLA degree, so she was very much a big part of the recruiting process.”
How do you see him fitting into the Packers’ 3-4 defense?
“I think he fits into Coach Capers’ scheme of what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard from Coach Mora because at one time they coached together. I think he fits in great into a 3-4 system. I think he has the versatility to play in that system. He’s certainly going to adapt to the NFL game. I only see him getting better. After working with him for a year and seeing how much he learned in one year, I’m excited to see what he can do on Sundays.”
Where did he play on the line his senior year?
“We started him on the left side at a defensive end and we played him on the offensive tackles. When we’d get into our nickel and dime packages, we’d put him inside on the guards. We also run some packages, especially teams that run I call assignment protections, where I knew they were going fan out to our outside linebacker, so we put Datone in on the center. He really could do that. Not everybody had do the five-technique against an offensive tackle and then all of a sudden be a zero technique on top of the center, but to Datone’s credit, he was certainly smart enough and adaptable enough to do it.”
What was it like to have the first player you coached drafted into NFL?
“It’s an awesome, awesome. I don’t even have the words to explain it. It’s just an awesome event because the fact you see a kid when he’s young and how he blossoms into that man and all the things he persevered and still stayed humbled. He just proved that humbleness and patience, it prevails and he’s an example of that.”
What positions did he play at Compton?
“Ever since Datone played football at Compton High, he played defensive end and offensive guard for us. He claims he has these hands where he could’ve played tight end. We laugh about now but he was really efficient on both sides of the ball for us. A very, very hard worker. It was like a sponge. He really wanted to get better. Not only on the field, but in the weight room, he wanted to get bigger, he wanted to get faster. He saw himself going to college pretty early once he started having some success and some colleges started having an interest on him.”
Scared you were going to lose him when family moved:
"Datone, he was one of the guys we could use as an example in our program. He led more by example but he would get vocal at times. He was one of those guys that you really want as a building block of the program and to use as an example in your program. You don’t have those guys in your program all the time so you really want to make sure that you let kids know he’s the example and he’s the brand of kid you want in your program. I can’t say enough about him. For a kid we thought we were going to lose him for the fact he moved his junior year to LA and out of Compton. We thought we were going to lose him because his mom was going to send him to another school because she thought Compton was too far. I spoke with her and pleaded with her that she allowed him to stay. She gave me a chance. I told her all these schools are coming after him and there’s an opportunity for him to go to college. You have to trust me if he continues to do what he’s doing in the classroom that he’s going to have an opportunity to go play college football. She trusted us and allowed him to stay. He just had to get up catch the bus, get up at 5 a.m. and get to study hall, but he made it on time and everything and things really blossomed for him.”
What kind of person are the Packers getting?
“He’s a very respectful kid and you could see that early. He never got in any trouble in school. He never got in any trouble with any teachers. I also want to give credit to his parents for raising a young man that makes it easier for us to coach. Definitely, early on, he came in and he was like a sponge. He wanted to take what we were going to give him. He grew and as he grew he didn’t outgrow his character and having the right attitude.”
How did Jones stay out of trouble in Compton:
“Thinking back, I think Datone was the type of kid if he sees someone doing something wrong. He sets his mind to doing the opposite. He takes the negative and he can see the positive way of doing things. Datone has seen a lot of things. You just hope kids can see the positive. I think Datone he was really able to stay involved in positive things. I don’t know. He just found the right path and did the right things. He could’ve easily gotten involved in some of the things that some of his old teammates or some of his friends or the neighborhood got involved in, but thanks to his parents staying on him and him staying involved in football. That’s been a positive role model in his life, his coaches, it allowed him to see some of the things he possibly could have. He worked hard in the classroom and on the field.”