Baltimore Ravens’ general manager Ozzie Newsome is one of the best talent evaluators in the NFL. In fact, some persons would tell you he is THE best.
But he’s also a Hall-of-Fame tight end who was so accomplished when he played at the University of Alabama that then-coach Bear Bryant called him “the greatest end in Alabama history.” While Newsome spends most of his time in Baltimore, he still maintains a home in Alabama — and when he goes there he never misses an opportunity to scout his alma mater.
Good thing, too. Since 2010, the Ravens spent one first-round and two seconds on draft picks from the University of Alabama. But of all the players Newsome scouted there, any idea whom he thought was the best?
“I would probably say … from the outset … Julio (Jones),” he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
Jones is the Atlanta Falcons’ top-shelf receiver who was named first-team All-Pro the past two seasons, who’s a four-time Pro Bowler and who led the league in receiving yards in 2015. He also was a first-team all-SEC choice in 2010 when he produced 78 catches for 1,133 yards and seven TDs at Alabama — all single-season highs.
But it wasn’t there that Newsome first saw him. Nope, it was at Foley (Ala.) High School, where Jones excelled as a receiver and defensive end, scoring 16 touchdowns his junior season, and was an all-state track-and-field performer.
“I had a chance (to see him there),” said Newsome, “and it was one of the years where we had a bye week, and Alabama was off that week. I have a place down in south Alabama, and I was told about a high-school football game that I could go to. So I went to a high-school football game, and there I saw this young man on the field, and it was a man playing against boys.”
It was Julio Jones.