MORGANTOWN — Time is working against Reuben Jones.
He’s in his first season at West Virginia as a defensive lineman being used at end presently. But he understands it’s also his last season at WVU and, perhaps, his last season ever playing football, with his early days having been spent at Michigan, where he played in just 15 games.
And so, as a graduate transfer, he is trying to make up for lost time, and he possesses the perfect approach to do so.
How do you describe Reuben Jones? Maybe like Red Bull on uppers. Maybe as the Energize Bunny with a McLaren F1 engine powering it.
“It’s like getting an IV when you’re dehydrated,” said WVU defensive coordinator Vic Koenning after watching Jones in practice early in camp.
Jones is a man in a hurry, and that resulted in two sacks in the team’s 20-13 opening victory over James Madison.
It’s his approach, his theory of life.
“I kind of say how you do anything is how you do everything,” he said as WVU began preparing for this Saturday’s first road game, a Noon affair against Missouri in Columbia.
“When I’m working out, I’m fast paced, trying to get through it the best way I can. When it comes to meetings, I’m taking notes, doing everything I have to do just because as a grad transfer you don’t have that much time.
“I’ve got one year, so I’m trying to take advantage of it. I only have one chance. That’s all I’ve got.”
Effort is everything to Jones, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 250 pounds, which is not the perfect frame they look for.
“I feel as long as you play with high effort and you go hard every play, plays just happen,” he said. “It’s like running downfield and catching a guy blindside or getting a fumble.”
He didn’t recover any fumbles in Week 1, but there were those two sacks.
“The two sacks I had were high-effort sacks. The first one I was in a 3-technique and came around. I kind of blew off the block. The second one I ripped and came off and ran the play down,” he said.
Speed and an aggressive nature is what coach Neal Brown and his defensive staff want.
But there is an attitude that comes with it, an attitude that Brown researched carefully with all of his graduate transfers, as he tried to bring in not only players, but leaders who would fit the culture he wanted to install at his new home.
“I felt like they wanted me here when I came on an unofficial visit,” he said. “I’m kind of like an older guy. I wanted to see how I would fit with the coaches, if they wanted me. You got to look a man in the eye, hang around, get a feel how you feel about it.
“It’s a big decision. It’s my last stop.”
Brown had particulars in mind as he brought transfers like Jones, punter Josh Growden and wide receiver George Campbell in.
“Culture was really important,” Brown said during his Tuesday press conference. “We were in culture-building mode this summer without a doubt. When I got here I really just kind of took everything in for a few months and then we really tried to start building late in the spring and through the summer. We were really choosy about who we brought in.”
They had film, but they delved into all the other areas that go into team building.
“They had to be guys that could help build the culture,” Brown said. “That’s why you see George Campbell, who graduated in four (years). He’s a tremendous kid. I knew people who were connected with him that I trusted who attested to his character. Reuben Jones, I knew people attached to him and Josh Growden the same way, so I was really choosy.”
“I definitely sensed that,” Jones said. “That was literally one of the first things he mentioned when I was considering here. He was talking about how he wanted me to be a part of a good culture, come in and bring positive energy to the team.
“Not that he thought I was going to bring negativity to the team, but he told me it was about culture and leadership. I need that. I need to bring that to our team. So I dove right in.
“I try to do what I can as far as leadership goes, talking to guys and doing what I need to do.”
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter at @bhertzel.