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Former Rutgers Football star Nate Jones returns to NFL ... in stripes

Scarlet Knight star who played eight NFL seasons is now an official.

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Rutgers v Miami
Jones starred at cornerback and kick returner before moving to the NFL
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The NFL recently updated their 2019 official officials roster for lack of a better term, and one of its newest Field Judges is former Rutgers Scarlet Knight Nathan Jones. Jones had been most recently working in the Pac-12 conference and in the now defunct AAF before he got the call to football’s top circuit for the second time. He previously played in the NFL for eight seasons after his time on the banks, so he should have the respect of current players.

Nate was a first team all-state selection from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School where his jersey was retired in 2012. He joined the Scarlet Knights under the Terry Shea coaching regime, but really took off as a star under the Greg Schiano coaching staff. After getting a look at running back, Jones permanently switched to defense in the 2001 season. His breakout moment came on a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown against Boston College that turned out to be the Knights’ only score of the day.

Jones was a speedster who totaled three career kickoff return touchdowns and was one of the few bright spots in the dismal 2002 season. The Big East Special Teams Player of the Year in 2002 was one of eight of College Football’s 2003 National Scholar-Athletes. As a senior that same season, he was the team’s best player as the Scarlet Knights improved from just one win to five victories. (let’s hope for more of the same in 2019)

Picked in the 7th round of the 2004 draft by the Dallas Cowboys, Jones ended up starting one game and playing all 16 games as a rookie. After four seasons in Dallas, he played two years in Miami, starting six games and defending 11 passes. After a solid season in Denver during which he made a career high 57 tackles, Nate’s final season was split between Miami and New England. His final game was the Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants.

Nate finished his NFL career with three career interceptions, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, six sacks, and 232 tackles. During his career he interned on Wall Street and wrote a TV pilot. After retiring from the NFL, Jones began his career as a referee reportedly in 2013 from what I gathered.

Jones is one of my favorite Scarlet Knights of all-time because there was always a chance he could make an awesome play. His legacy is summarized best by his opening kickoff touchdown return at Tennessee to silence a crowd (minus the few RU faithful in the video below) of about 100,000 which I believe was the largest audience Rutgers had ever played in front of up to that point in the program’s history.

What are your best memories of Jones? Leave them in the comments below after you take part in our poll.


Was Nate Jones the best kickoff returner in Rutgers history before Janarion Grant?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    (45 votes)
  • 21%
    (15 votes)
  • 13%
    I’m only here so I don’t get fined.
    (9 votes)
69 votes total Vote Now

For those who played NCAA Football on Playstation or Xbox, Jones was likely your best kick returner, punt returner, cornerback, and probably used at running back alongside Brian Leonard. I probably can’t be talking about “his likeness” especially considering this was the Ryan Hart era, but I’m in California right now so I’m sure there will be a law for that here soon. Ah memories of summers before we had real jobs ...