A year ago, Tristan Jones reported to training camp with the powerhouse Laval Rouge et Or as the nation’s No. 1 recruit at running back. He only lasted a few days.
“It just wasn’t right,” Jones said.
The 24-year-old, a record-setting rusher during his days in the Canadian Junior Football League, cited academic hiccups and the language barrier for his abrupt departure.
“I made the decision before I got too far into it that this was not what I should be doing,” Jones said.
Laval’s loss was the Saint Mary’s Huskies’ gain. Jones is three days into camp at Huskies Stadium and — although nursing a hamstring injury — could make an instant impact with a club that led the country in rushing last season.
Jones got a taste of the Saint Mary’s campus last fall when visiting his brother Devon, who was an all-rookie running back selection last season. Tristan committed to the school in January and has been practising with the team ever since.
The 5-foot-10, 225-pounder is a potential 1,000-yard rusher, according to head coach Steve Sumarah.
“I’m just looking to play again and have some fun,” Jones said.
Devon, whose junior statistics pale in comparison to those of Tristan, was one of only two Atlantic University Sport backs to average more than 100 yards per game.
The sons of former CFL great Milson Jones have played together since childhood and have complementing styles.
“He’s more of a bruising back and he likes to hit people, lower his shoulder,” Tristan said. “I’m more of a scat-back, I look for open space more than running over someone.”
Jones originally committed to Laval because he wanted to win a Vanier Cup. After he left, the Rouge et Or dominated en route to its fourth national championship in six years.
But if you don’t join them, beat them, Jones figures.
“Until we beat them, they’re the best,” he said. “But it’s a better fit for me here. And we’re looking to become the best. We’ve got a lot of work to do and hopefully we can get there.”