How athletic is former Saint Mary's forward Rob Jones? At least one NFL franchise would have loved to find out.
On Monday, Jones's agent told CSNBayArea.com the Minnesota Vikings extended an offer to the former Gaels standout to try out at the team's rookie minicamp. The Vikings are scouring for a tight end, and Jones' frame -- he stands 6-foot-6 and is a well-built 237 pounds -- was apparently enough to draw fleeting comparisons to other hoopsters-turned-NFL-tight ends, like prototype San Diego Chargers star Antonio Gates. Even better, Jones has some experience: He played tight end in high school at San Francisco's Archbishop Riordan High in 2006, and he considered a two-sport path at San Diego when then-coach Jim Harbaugh (now of Stanford and San Francisco 49ers fame) floated the possibility early in Jones' career.
But Jones left football alone then -- he transferred to football-less Saint Mary's soon thereafter -- and he hasn't changed his mind since. So he declined Minnesota's offer:
"I wanted to see where I can go with basketball first," said Jones, 23. "Two or three years from now, if I'm not where I want to be with basketball, I can still have that option.
"Football is intriguing, but it's really a decision I made five years ago."
Instead, Jones is going to focus on his first dream: playing professional basketball. It won't be easy. Jones is a tweener, undersized to play a forward, not quite quick enough to play on the wing. He is versatile, that's for sure, and he was a dominant rebounder in the West Coast Conference, a big part of why the Gaels exorcised their Gonzaga demons en route to the 2012 WCC crown. But it may be difficult to convince scouts that Jones -- who scouts seem to consider him unworthy of even a second-round pick at this point -- can recreate that level of production playing against the best players in the world.
Jones may end up being a perfect fit in Europe, where the game is more open and the competition less physically imposing. But, hey, if the whole basketball thing doesn't work out, a shot to play tight end in the NFL isn't the worst Plan B to keep stowed in his back pocket.