Kenyatta Jones made team history when he became the first USF Bulls player drafted into the NFL.
Unfortunately for Jones, that was his last true NFL highlight. Jones struggled with legal and personal problems before he suddenly died before turning 40.
This is Jones’ story, from South Florida to his untimely passing in Colorado.
Kenyatta Jones was USF’s first draft pick
Standing 6 feet 3 inches and weighing over 300 pounds, Kenyatta Jones had the ideal NFL size.
Nicknamed the “Bear” because of that size, Jones earned second-team Division I-AA All-Independent team honors in 1998. USF began play a year prior, in 1997, under former Kansas State defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt.
Jones even played a few games for USF’s basketball team during the 1998-99 season. He grabbed two rebounds in three games.
New England used the 96th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft on Jones, who had an excellent performance at the 2001 NFL combine.
Jones won a Super Bowl with the Patriots
Primarily playing guard and tackle in the NFL, Jones saw action in five games as a rookie.
New England ended that season with its first Super Bowl title in franchise history and the initial of six titles in the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era.
Jones joined the starting lineup a year later, starting 11 games at right tackle. He played in 13 total games for a Patriots team that missed the playoffs at 9-7. An injury kept Jones out to start the 2003 season, although that isn’t why the Patriots parted ways with him.
According to ESPN, Jones was arrested for allegedly throwing hot tea on his cousin and the Patriots released him a few days later.
Jones played in three games, starting two, for the Washington Redskins in 2004. He later tried making a comeback attempt in other leagues, but his football career ended in 2009.
Kenyatta Jones tragically died before he turned 40
The NFL world received shocking news when Kenyatta Jones died from a heart attack in June 2018.
Jones, 39 at the time, lived in Colorado. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times following Jones’ death, former Bulls teammate Joey Sipp fondly remembered his former teammate as “extremely competitive.”
“You tell athletes all the time you can’t turn it off and turn it on when you wanted to. Kenyatta Jones was one of those guys who could turn it on and turn it off. … When he turned it on, he was unstoppable.”
Former Bulls fullback Otis Dixon called Jones the “ultimate teammate.”
“On a long, hot day, he was gonna help us get through practice,” Dixon said. “Life will never be the same. He hasn’t been in my life, but he’s in my life.”