Trent Jones has been an offensive line starter for Barton College for all three seasons since the Bulldogs revived their football program after 71 years in the spring of 2021. From his tackle position, the Jacksonville High product has helped Barton average more than 5.3 yards per rush over those three seasons.
In the 10th edition of Aycock Transmission Meet The Bulldogs for the 2022 season, Jones talks with Times sports editor Paul Durham about how he came to Barton from Western Carolina University, his love for and skill at golf, Christmas pajamas, what tastes good off the grill and what he loves about playing football for the Bulldogs.
PD: So, what are you majoring in?
TJ: I’m majoring in Business Administration,
PD: Business administration. Are you a senior now in terms of eligibility and how much you have left to do in the class?
TJ: Well, I’m a senior in the classroom but I’m a redshirt sophomore on the field. I have two more years of eligibility.
PD: I gotcha. … What do you hope to do with that when you graduate?
TJ: I hope to take over my dad’s business or use it elsewhere. I intend to get my MBA as well. Also, hopefully that will help me get in somewhere.
PD: What’s your dad’s business?
TJ: My dad puts in reverse osmosis treatment plants around around the state.
PD: Oh, wow. So is that like a water-cleaning kind of thing?
TJ: Yes, sir.
PD: Well, you grew up in Jacksonville, right?
TJ: Yes, sir.
PD: But you went to school at Western Carolina first?
TJ: Yes, sir. I went there out of high school.
PD: And did you play football there?
TJ: Yes, I did.
PD: So you just were there for one year?
PD: Well, tell me how did you get to Wilson and Barton?
TJ: So I went to Western the summer after I graduated high school. I stayed there for the summer semester and the fall semester and then I ended up transferring for that next spring semester. So I was looking to get closer to home. And it turned out that my coach at Western was leaving. So he contacted or apparently Coach Holt, which was my offensive line coach at Western, contacted (former Barton offensive coordinator Will Orbin) Coach Orbin about me and it kind of just fit perfect because he was looking for offensive linemen and I was looking to come closer to home. Then when Coach Hester and Coach Orbin came and visited me at my house, it wasn’t too long ago after I got home from Western. It just really just felt like home with them and that’s honestly how I just got sold on it.
PD: And Wilson became your new home! … Well, this is a good question to ask a guy like you who grew up near the coast and then lived in the mountains. What do you prefer, the beach or the mountains?
TJ: I tell you, the mountains are beautiful but there ain’t nothing like a beach.
PD: Beach is home, huh?
TJ: Yes, sir.
PD: Now, do you spend a lot of time down at the beach when you’re home in Jacksonville?
TJ: I do. I do spend a lot there.
PD: What are the things you’d like to do on the water?
TJ: Well, I like to go boating and tubing and fishing.
PD: Do you guys live near the water?
TJ: Well, right here in Jacksonville, so I’m about 20 minutes from the beach.
PD: I guess there’s no real water in Jacksonville itself, is there?
TJ: I’m about five minutes from the boat ramp.
PD: Man, that sounds like fun because I love to fish. I could do that every day but I could go to the mountains and fish for trout every day too.
TJ: Oh, yeah, you ain’t lying about that!
PD: Did you go to Jacksonville High?
TJ: Yes sir, I did.
PD: Now did you play any other sports there?
TJ: I played baseball.
PD: Has football always been your favorite?
TJ: Oh yeah. I’ve always loved football.
PD: When you were little, did you want to be a football player?
TJ: Ever since I grew up playing Pop Warner.
PD: I got you. Who was your favorite player when you were a kid?
TJ: My favorite player when I was a kid was Zack Martin.
PD: Zack Martin. Man, you gotta tell me who that is because I don’t follow the NFL as much as I used to. Is he an offensive lineman?
TJ: Yes sir.
PD: There you go. That’s it, offensive linemen never get the publicity that other guys get. Well, that’s unusual because most kids growing up do not aspire to be even if you play offensive line, you know, it’s usually a quarterback or running back who is your favorite player? So you chose an offensive lineman that was your favorite. I guess that’s something that you’ve always wanted to do?
TJ: My dad played college football. … He played offensive line in college, so he was always trying to point us out to offensive lineman and stuff like that. So that’s how we really learned.
PD: Now, where did your dad go to college?
TJ: Charleston Southern.
PD: I see. So you come from a family of offensive linemen.
TJ: Yes sir. My brother went to Campbell.
PD: Oh, wow. Well, that’s awesome. Well, man, my brief foray into football in high school, I played offensive line too.
TJ: There you go!
PD: Man, I used to say that we’re the smartest and the most organized people on the team. … Well, if you can have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be and what would you order?
TJ: Tim Tebow.
TJ: And I would order ribeye and a baked potato.
PD: (laughs) That’s without question, huh?
TJ: Yes sir.
PD: So is Tebow one of your favorite players now? I guess he never really played in the NFL but he was a Heisman guy. Or is that just because he’s an interesting person?
TJ: I mean, he’s just an inspiration to really anybody just the way he just goes about his daily life and mentors everybody. He’s just a good overall guy, I guess you could say.
PD: No doubt, man. Well, he’s something else. There’s nobody like Tim Tebow, that’s for sure. All right, what did you want to be when you grow up, if it wasn’t a football player? Did you ever have any other aspirations?
TJ: I always wanted to be an engineer.
PD: You mean like an engineer that builds things or that drives a train?
TJ: Architectural engineer.
PD: Architectural engineer. So you wanted to be an architectural engineer when you were a little kid?
TJ: I was always into the grass cutting and all that type of stuff, so I always wanted to get into architecture.
PD: What’s your favorite family tradition? Every family’s got little things they like to do, what was something that your family does that you love? It can be holiday or any other time.
TJ: I guess one thing we’ve always done growing up is the night before Christmas, we’ve always opened one gift. So I guess that’s been my favorite tradition.
PD: You get one gift on Christmas Eve?
TJ: Yes sir.
PD: Do you get to choose which one you get to pick or do your parents choose it?
TJ: Well, it’s usually pajamas.
PD: You look forward to getting new pajamas each Christmas Eve? Do you guys still do that?
TJ: We do.
PD: You still get pajamas?
TJ: Yes sir.
PD: (laughs) Well, you know, that’s something that you just never buy for yourself as an adult, that’s for sure, so if somebody gives it to you. Um, what is your least favorite chore?
TJ: My least favorite chore? Probably cleaning. I don’t like cleaning.
PD: Cleaning? You mean, cleaning around the house?
TJ: Yeah, like cleaning the bathroom. I don’t like cleaning.
PD: Well, hold on, I thought offensive linemen were supposed to be neat, orderly guys.
TJ: Well, I am. I just try to keep it clean so I don’t have to clean it.
PD: I hear you. Do you have roommates?
TJ: I do.
PD: Do you live with any of the guys on the team?
TJ: Yeah. One of the guys from my hometown.
PD: I gotcha.
TJ: It’s another offensive lineman.
PD: Oh, you’ve got two offensive linemen together. So you guys ought to have a neat apartment. … Do you cook at all? Do you guys cook at home?
TJ: I grill.
PD: You grill?
TJ: Yes sir. I grill chicken and every once in a while I’ll get a steak on there.
PD: So you don’t mess with the stove, but if it’s a grill, you can deal with it?
TJ: Oh yeah, I can grill.
PD: There you go. Now what’s your favorite thing to grill?
TJ: Probably steak or chicken.
PD: Do you ever go for anything really hard out there like smoking it or anything like that?
TJ: Whenever I go home we’ve got a Green Egg (grill) so we can smoke stuff on that.
PD: Oh, man, those things are nice. What’s the best thing to cook on one of those?
TJ: Well, what I think is really a sleeper is kielbasa.
TJ: Yeah, it’s like a sausage.
PD: Yeah, Polish sausage. And that’s the best thing to grill on that?
PD: Oh, wow. I would have never thought about it. I think with those things, you can just dump oysters in there. You can do all kinds of stuff with the Green Egg.
TJ: Well, being from the coast, I’m not really an oyster guy. I know that’s weird, but.
PD: Wow! Because you ate too many when you were a kid or you’re just not into them?
TJ: I’m really more of a turf guy. I’m not really a surf guy.
PD: Oh, you don’t eat seafood?
TJ: Not as much as you’d think.
PD: Well, did you have to eat a lot growing up?
TJ: I did.
PD: Well, I always look forward to it, but, I mean, it was like once-a-week thing here but I guess we weren’t really near the coast. … Now, do you collect anything? Are you a collector of anything?
TJ: No, sir.
PD: No? Do you have any other hobbies?
TJ: I like to play golf.
PD: Somebody I talked to last year said they play golf with you. … I think it was (offensive lineman) Hunter (Sauls) actually. … You play golf a lot, right?
TJ: I do. I try to get out there whenever I can. My little brother’s really good. We try to go out there every time.
PD: Where does your brother live?
TJ: Well, he’s still in high school so he’s still in Jacksonville.
PD: I got you. So you’re talking about when you go home? Do you play golf around here?
TJ: Yeah, I play a little at Wedgwood.
PD: Who else on the team plays with you?
TJ: Jarrett Thornton will go play with me. The Sauls brothers play with me. And Drew Leggett.
PD: Are you the best?
TJ: Oh, yeah, for sure.
PD: So you guys don’t play for money out there because you’ll be taking their money, right?
TJ: Yeah, they don’t want to play me for money.
PD: Well, have you played golf your whole life?
TJ: I have. I grew up on a golf course. My grandparents on the golf course.
PD: Oh, really. Which one?
TJ: Right there in Jacksonville, it’s called Swingin’ Things at Fletcher’s Landing.
PD: I gotcha. Is it is it a private course or public course?
TJ: It was a nine-hole course but now it’s an event center. So there’s no golf course.
PD: Oh, wow. Now, did you play golf high in high school?
TJ: No, I didn’t. I played baseball.
PD: Oh, that’s right. … So what do you usually shoot in golf?
TJ: I’m like high 70s.
PD: High 70s? That’s pretty good to be shooting in the 70s … Now do you go to the movies very often?
TJ: I do.
PD: Have you been to one recently?
TJ: I haven’t.
PD: You have not? What was the last movie you saw?
TJ: I think that Thor movie was the last one I saw.
PD: Oh, wow, it’s been a while.
TJ: I think that’s the last movie I’ve been to.
PD: What’s your favorite fast food chain?
PD: Bojangles! You didn’t even hesitate for that. What do you order at Bojangles?
TJ: Depends if it’s breakfast or lunch. If it’s breakfast, I’m going with the Cheddar Bo biscuit.
PD: I was about to say, what’s the difference at Bojangles? You can eat breakfast for lunch and lunch for breakfast really? I mean, I get a Cajun filet biscuit like in the middle of the afternoon. … What is your favorite restaurant in Wilson?
TJ: Um, it would probably have to be El Tap or La Ranch (El Tapatio or La Rancherita).
PD: So you like Mexican food places?
TJ: Yes, sir.
PD: La Rancherita is very popular with your teammates.
TJ: Or Parker’s. I’m a big Parker’s fan, too.
PD: Man, you’re the first guy to say Parker’s since I’ve been asking this question!
TJ: I’m a big Parker’s guy.
PD: What do you love about Parker’s?
TJ: Fried chicken and barbecue.
PD: Now do you like Marty’s too? Have you been there?
TJ: I haven’t been to Marty’s.
PD: You haven’t been to Marty’s? Well, you should try Marty’s. It’s pretty similar to Parker’s. … Now what is the craziest thing you’ve ever done, Trent that you’re willing to share here?
TJ: I don’t even know.
PD: Got no crazy things?
TJ: Not any that I can think of.
PD: All right, it’s like I said, the one that you’re willing to share here, so I don’t want you to implicate yourself on any childhood misdeeds or misadventures that you used to get involved in. Um, what is your favorite thing about playing football at Barton?
TJ: My favorite thing is just the culture that we have, how everybody buys into it and we’re all family. We all go out to eat. We all hang out. It’s just a good family and brotherhood atmosphere.
PD: What about just your favorite thing about Barton in general, living there, going to school there?
TJ: I like the small feel to the school. Small classrooms. I can walk to class