Patriots

Josh Uche recalled seeing Mac Jones’s toughness during a college matchup

"He was a tough kid."

Mac Jones Josh Uche quote
Mac Jones playing against Michigan in the 2020 Citrus Bowl. AP Photo/John Raoux

Like any quarterback, Patriots first-round pick Mac Jones will have to win over the players in the locker room if he hopes to become a starter eventually. But given his time in college, Jones has already earned the respect of at least one of his new teammates.

During a press conference on Tuesday, second-year linebacker Josh Uche was asked about his experience playing against Jones (and Alabama) while at Michigan.

“I met Mac Jones back in the Citrus Bowl,” Uche joked. “We met a couple of times.”

The game happened in 2020 at the Citrus Bowl. Uche was a consistent menace for the Alabama offensive line and recorded multiple quarterback hits on Jones.

“Got a couple of pressures,” said Uche. “Unfortunately, didn’t get a sack. He got over on me with that one. But I got a couple of pressures on him. That was fun. It was cool to see him.”

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But as Uche noted, the future Patriots quarterback was undeterred.

“He was a tough kid, man,” Uche admitted. “He was standing in that pocket. I remember a couple of times I hit him, I’m like, ‘I know he’s not getting up.’ It was a dime the next play, so happy he’s on our team.”

Jones took shots from other Michigan players in the game as well. One, delivered by 6-foot-6 270-pound defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson split a molar of Jones’s into pieces. The hit was flagged for roughing the passer.

Still, Jones played through it, helping to gain a nickname from an Alabama teammate, Mac Hereford.

“I thought he was dead,” Hereford told NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread for a pre-draft profile. “But he’d waited three years to get hit like that, and everyone on the sideline could relate. That was the Joker. You can’t kill him. He looks over like, ‘Let’s go, what’s the next play?’ It was legendary.”

Jones not only stayed in the game but led Alabama to a 35-16 win. He totaled 327 yards passing with three touchdowns.

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