- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Periods between the letters in his preferred first name or not? This, apparently, is not a clear-cut answer.
“Ehh. It’s kind of a preference, I guess,” Jones said. “TJ really stands for Tai-ler Jones. It’s, I don’t put periods in it. No periods.”
The name change happened when he arrived at Notre Dame, deep southern drawl and all. It turned meeting new people at the school more difficult in some ways. Not because of his personality, but the way he said his name and the alternative spelling it has.
He would say it ‘Tyyyla’ because he’s from the south and that’s how he always spoke. So for the sake of comfort and not having to constantly correct people or here his name differently, he shortened it. Tai-ler, for the public, became TJ.
“Behind the spelling, my mother’s from Korea so they wanted to go with a more different, unique spelling,” Jones said. “So the Tai is like Taiwan and there’s actually a dash in between to space it out.
“It really started my senior year of high school and my first semester at Notre Dame, they were calling me Trailer, Taileer, Taylor, anything you can think of with that arrangement of letters.”
While he took care of his name issue early on, people started to find out who he was by his junior season, when he caught 50 passes for 649 yards as a junior and then as a senior, where he had 70 catches for 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns.
He also had two rushing touchdowns his senior season, and general manager Martin Mayhew specifically cited his ability to make plays in critical situations and his hands after the team drafted him in the sixth round last weekend.
Due to his size – he’s generously listed at 6-foot – he has started working with the Lions in the slot rather than on the outside, mostly because on the outside Detroit has Calvin Johnson and potentially Eric Ebron. Both of them have a bit more height than he does.
“It’s kind of hard to compete with that,” Jones said. “With a jump ball with them.”
He started working with some of those players this week, although he admitted he didn’t really know what he was doing in the few plays he ran with the first unit. That’s part of being a rookie, though, something Jones understands and is trying to embrace.
“At first it was a little overwhelming,” Jones said. “It’s kind of a dream come true to have such greats surrounding you. You know, after the first time it is this is what you need to expect.
“This is something you have to get used to because if you want to play next year, if I want to get on the field, I’m going to be surrounded by them.”