THE JONES FILE
Name: Tommy Jones
New position: Head football coach at Dacula
Former position: Head football coach at Lumpkin County
Education: Graduated from Brookwood High School in 1991; earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Furman University; received specialist degree from University of Alabama
Background: Served as head coach the past seven seasons at Lumpkin County; played offensive line at Furman and coached there for two seasons as a graduate assistant before spending two years with Campus Outreach; got his high school start in coaching at Dacula in 2000; also coached three seasons at Oconee County and one at South Gwinnett; younger brother Philip is head football coach at Banks County and father Tom is Brookwood's longtime offensive line coach
Family: Wife Cory; daughters Avery, 12, and Sydney, 10
Tommy Jones' high school coaching career has come full circle.
The 40-year-old was approved Thursday night as the new head football coach at Dacula, the school where he got his start in preps back in 2000. He worked for longtime Falcons coach Kevin Maloof during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
"I have told Coach Maloof on several occasions that my basic coaching philosophy was formed when I started my career at Dacula under his leadership," Jones said. "What a great opportunity it was to work on a staff with Paul Standard, Dicky May, Jed Hodges and many others. I learned more during those two years than I could ever express."
That background gives Jones, who has deep Gwinnett ties, a good idea of the situation at Dacula.
He inherits a program with a proud tradition --Maloof won 151 games there from 1991 to 2010 and won 10 or more games seven times --that slipped a bit last season. The Falcons were 9-4 in new head coach Jared Zito's first season in 2011, but they went 1-9 last season.
Dacula turned to Jones to restore some of that luster.
"I think Dacula is a great situation," Jones said. "When you think Dacula football, you think tradition. You think about toughness. You think about tradition. It's a very proud community and program with an unparalleled, blue-collar work ethic.
"One of our primary goals is to be a point of pride within our community. We want to put a product on the field that is always disciplined, prepared and plays the game with passion."
Jones is a product of Gwinnett football, having played offensive line at Brookwood under his father Tom, then and still the Broncos' line coach. After graduating from Brookwood in 1991, he played football at Furman and was a graduate assistant there for two seasons before spending two years with Campus Outreach, a Christian ministry.
That's when Maloof hired him at Dacula. He was assistant head coach at Oconee County for three years and offensive coordinator at South Gwinnett for one season until he got hired at Lumpkin County.
He made great strides with a Lumpkin program that has struggled mightily for years, maybe most notably becoming the longest-tenure head coach in school history. Player participation was in the mid-30 range when he was hired and now it is approaching 100. He oversaw the transition from Class AA to AAAA and had winning records in 2010 and 2011 in AAA and competed in recent years with regions that featured powers Flowery Branch, Gainesville, North Hall, Monroe Area and Eastside.
"Although we weren't able to achieve all of our goals at Lumpkin County, I feel like the program is healthier than it has ever been," Jones said. "It has been very satisfying to see the work habits of the kids develop and progress over the last seven years. Participation has doubled, the coaching staff has remained stable and the touchdown club has become active."
Jones and his wife Cory became entrenched in the Lumpkin community, where their daughters Avery (12) and Sydney (10) have grown up. Because of that, he said it's bittersweet to leave the school.
At the same time, he is excited about heading up a promising program at Dacula. The new job also brings him home shortly after his mother Linda, a beloved Brookwood supporter, passed away in December.
"Obviously, with mom passing, the opportunity gets me closer to dad, so it's an important time for me to be close to him," Jones said.
Jones begins work today at Dacula and one of the key tasks for the following week is assembling his first coaching staff there.
"One of the first things that I am going to do when I start working next week is to sit down with (Dacula principal) Dr. (Bryan) Long and (athletic director) Coach (Mark) Karen in order to discuss what potential openings we might have in the school," Jones said. "I have no doubt that Dacula's reputation and tradition will help us attract some of the best coaches in the state to add to an already solid staff in place."