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‘Confirmed house’: How Dawand Jones went from Ben Davis basketball to the NFL draft

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As Indianapolis anxiously awaits the names called for the Colts in this week’s NFL draft, one Indy native is waiting to hear his own name said by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: Former Ben Davis offensive lineman Dawand Jones.

“Going to Ohio State, you see the draft, you see all your friends going, but you don’t really expect your name to be on there at one point. Now it being the time, it’s crazy,” Jones said.

A dream that almost wasn’t is now quickly becoming reality. Before Jones was one of the Buckeyes’ best linemen, he was nicknamed “Little Shaq” on the Ben Davis basketball court. A career in football wasn’t even on his radar until one day in the Giants’ weight room his sophomore year.

“In comes a coach from a Big Ten school,” recalls Mike Kirschner, former head coach of the Giants. “He comes to me and says, ‘Who’s that kid over there on the tricep?’ I said, ‘Well, he doesn’t play football. He’s just a hooper.’ He said, ‘Do you mind if I speak to him?’”

The unidentified coach didn’t mince words when he got the chance to talk to Jones.

“The coach says, ‘I’m just going to cut to the chase, stop being a dumb, son, and play football.’ The next day, he comes in and says, ‘Coach, I want to play football,’” Kirschner continued.

“Honestly, I was all in on basketball,” Jones said. “Being from a basketball state. And then my best friend told me, ‘If you want to make some money and just change your mom’s life, you might want to play football.’ I said, I’ll play if you play, and he did.”

He started that next season and helped Ben Davis go undefeated and win the 6A state championship.

“We made this comment his junior year that if he ever got serious about being a football player we would watch him play on Sundays,” Kirschner said. “When you have feet and you have the athleticism to go with size, it’s a match made for the NFL.”

Jones showed off in the NFL Combine, which was conveniently right here in his own backyard at Lucas Oil Stadium. He was the biggest in every category of any position. Analysts were calling him a ‘confirmed house.’

That wasn’t the only special moment he’s had here at the home of the Colts. Jones says he’s played at the stadium a couple of times and just being at the stadium was like walking on sacred grounds.

“Just getting done with it was like a surreal moment. Seeing all my family up in the right corner, and just seeing them happy, I know that I did something for the family,” Jones said.

“I’m such a happy mom for my big guy, even though he’ll always be my little boy… at 6 foot 8,” his mom Deanna said, laughing.

Her big guy has a chance to make a big impact on an NFL roster.