GREEN BAY – With nearly two dozen of his closest friends and family in attendance, there was no better place for Aaron Jones to make his first NFL start than AT&T Stadium on Sunday.
Roughly 8½ hours west of Dallas, the Packers’ rookie running back starred at Burges High School and the University of Texas-El Paso, finishing his collegiate career as the Miners’ all-time leading rusher.
Born into a military family, Jones lived in Georgia, Germany, Tennessee (twice) and Virginia (twice) by the time he was a teenager before his parents, Alvin Sr. and Vurgess, finally settled the family in El Paso.
Fittingly, Jones shined in his extended debut in “The Lone Star State.” With his parents and sister watching, Jones rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries to power the Packers in a 35-31 victory over the Cowboys.
“It was good being back home with family and friends,” Jones said Monday. “They were telling me how proud they were of me and how happy they were of me.”
Jones, who was making a spot start in place of Ty Montgomery, said he had about 20 friends and family decked out in Packers’ apparel, though he wasn’t able to find them in the stands from the field.
One individual missing from the festivities was Aaron’s twin brother, Alvin Jr., a senior linebacker at UTEP who currently leads the Miners’ defense with 51 tackles (4½ for a loss) and two sacks.
The twin brothers, who always have been incredibly close, FaceTime each other every day. They’ve watched each other’s games all season, exchanging notes and comments.
Although the Miners had a home game Saturday against Western Kentucky, Alvin wasn’t able to make the trek to Dallas because the UTEP football team had film review and lifting Sunday.
Still, Alvin was the first person Aaron talked to after his career day against the Cowboys.
“Right after the game, he was the first person I was off to the side with, talking to,” Aaron said. “He just told me he knew I could do it. He’s been watching me do it my whole life. Just keep working hard and it’ll pay off.”
Jones became a household name in the hours after the game. His performance has Jones nominated for both the NFL’s rookie of the week and ground player of the week. His 125 rushing yards were second in the league only to Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette.
After receiving pregame pep talks from Montgomery and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jones looked completely in his element in playing 53 of a possible 60 offensive snaps.
“You’re so proud and excited for him,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “It was just a great moment, one that he can continue to build and grow from. So, extremely excited about it. Did a lot of positive things. His play style was outstanding, his run instincts, the decisions he made as a ball carrier were outstanding.”
Still, there was a core of Packers fans mistaking his Twitter account (@Showtyme_33) with that of Philadelphia Union defender Aaron Jones (@AaronJones_19).
Jones takes it all in stride. A healthy scratch for the Packers’ opener against Seattle, Jones is just grateful he was given the chance to show what he could do on such a big stage in front of family and friends.
“It’s big-time,” Jones said. “I’ve always wanted to be a go-to guy. I think I took a step in the right direction.”
Complete game coverage: