Quote of the Day “the best back I ever saw live” —TB’s Dad, who saw a bunch of backs over the years
Rooster Jones played tailback at Pascagoula High School, leading the Panthers to an unbeaten season and the Mississippi State Championship in 1976, his senior year. He then broke a lot of local hearts when he signed a scholarship with the defending National Champion Pittsburgh Panthers. He was hurt during his entire Pittsburgh career and faded into obscurity. I’ve heard through the years that he was working out at Ingall’s Shipyard in Pascagoula, or stayed in Pittsburgh and had success with his degree, or even that he was killed in some shady deal gone bad. So far as I know, though he remains a household name in Pascagoula, nobody really knows what became of him.
TB was six years old when Rooster was running wild for the Panthers. I remember the hype and the excitement and of course the hometown pride that our guys were going all the way. I had no idea how much Rooster was sacrificing in bringing all that joy to us. Late in the season Rooster injured his ankle. Had he sat out, odds are the championship would not have come to Pascagoula and chances are he would’ve given the ankle time to heal. But he played through the injury and to Pascagoula the trophy came. For Rooster, the damage done to his ankle never fully healed and he was never the same.
Of all the stories I’ve heard about Rooster, there are two that stand out. Apparantly, the night before the annual Pascagoula-Moss Point grudge match, dead chickens were left lying around the entrance to PHS as a warning of what the Tigers had in store for him. I can’t verify whether this is so, but I’ve heard it repeated many times. The second one I know to be true because I’ve heard Jackie Sherrill discuss it and I verified it in a Sports Illustrated article I found here.
The great Hugh Green was only discovered by Sherrill and lured away to Pitt because of his performance in a playoff game against Rooster. Ironically, both Jones and Green were committed to go to Mississippi State before Sherrill’s offer of national glory turned their heads. In addition, Sherrill picked up Pascagoula brothers Pappy and Lynn Thomas who became Pitt stars. Three starters from Mississippi picked up for some great Pitt teams, all due to the recruitment of Rooster, who never panned out in college–what are the odds?
Rooster. A major part of TB’s Golden Age of Sports.