THOMSON — Quarterback Josh Jones, Thomson High School’s 2011 football MVP, accepted an academic scholarship to Mercer University on Tuesday.
He joins a football program that is being revived decades after it was discontinued.
“I’ll be at the first game, watching him start at quarterback,” said Roderick Hilton, an assistant principal at Thomson and a 1997 graduate of the Macon school. The Bears will practice this fall but will not play official games until 2013.
Jones was joined Tuesday in the school media center by his family, mother Felicia Bridges and Thomson police Capt. Jamie Bridges. Both said they enjoyed their visit to the Mercer campus.
Jones said he plans to study sports medicine.
He received praise Tuesday from several people who have watched his gridiron and academic progress.
“He was our most valuable player this year,” said Thomson coach and athletic director Milan Turner. He called Jones a great kid and a great player, and said the quarterback demonstrated leadership from the day Turner arrived at Thomson last spring.
At Mercer, Jones will play under offensive coordinator Justin Brown, who played for Turner when he coached at Warner Robins High School.
Turner said he also is friends with Mercer coach Bobby Lamb and defensive coordinator Jeff Farrington.
Track and football assistant coach Alvin Wright also called Jones “a great kid.”
Brett Chalker, who coached Jones in middle school, said he is a hard worker.
Principal Cecil Strong said Jones’ academic scholarship is a credit to the student and to others.
“That says a lot about the school. It says more about his family and his character to be a scholar and an athlete,” Strong said.
The Board of Trustees at Mercer last November unanimously approved the university’s return to competition in intercollegiate football, ending a 70-year hiatus.