"The two guys that really got me where I was were Dick Conolly and Rod Marinelli," Jones said. "Dick Conolly was awesome; he was perfect for me. He was too tough on a lot of guys, but that's what I needed. Dick was like Marinelli; he kinda took me under his wing for whatever reason, I don't know, but him and Marinelli were huge in my life."
And it was his high school football coach, the late Jerry Coggins, who convinced Jones he should play college football at Utah State — even though Coggins himself had played at the University of Utah.
It was instrumental people like that who helped put Jones on the path toward a football career filled with plenty of awards and honors.
In 1993, Jones was named to Utah State's all-century team — one of only 24 former Aggie players selected, joining the likes of Beehive State sports legends Olsen and LaVell Edwards, along with fellow longtime NFL players such as Len Rohde, Eric Hipple, Lionel Aldridge, Greg Kragen, Phil Olsen, Jim Hough, Hal Garner, Al Smith, Patrick Allen and Louie Giammona.
In 1994, Jones was elected to the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2007, he was inducted into Utah State University's Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.
BACK AT THE RANCH
Since retiring from football more than 25 years ago, Jones hasn't paid too much attention to the game that made him famous.
Sure, he keeps some of his favorite football memorabilia from his glory days on hand in his office at home, but football season happens to coincide with what has long since become his busiest (and favorite) time of the year — hunting season.
And what with a large hunting ranch in Utah that he purchased during his NFL playing days, another one in Idaho that he purchased nine years ago, and a 90,000-acre hunting ranch in Mexico he bought last year, he's more than got his hands full.
Several years ago, he got involved in a well-publicized dispute with property owners and hunters who filed a lawsuit claiming that Weber County Commissioners had given Jones far too sweet of a deal on the land where his Utah ranch is located. He's also run into hassles from other land owners who charged him with poaching animals off their property.
But none of that has deterred him from his preferred lifestyle as an avid hunter who loves the great outdoors.
At his ranch in Idaho, hunters can go after deer, elk, moose, buffalo and bear, and there are several options to choose from. They can stay in the hunting lodge located up in the pines overlooking the Tetons, or they can "rough it" a little bit by staying at the spike camp. They can hunt using the weapon of their choice — rifle, bow and arrow, or muzzleloader — and they have the choice of traveling by foot, horseback or ATV. They can hunt in the 5,000-acre high-fence area or hunt on the 5,000-acre free range. For a base fee of $5,900, they'll get a guided five-day hunt in which results of getting an elk are guaranteed. After all, he estimates there are around 1,000 head of elk on the Idaho spread.
And at the ranch in Mexico, hunters have an opportunity to bag a desert bighorn sheep, mule and whitetail deer, or exotic animals.
Among his more famous clients is none other than Utah's favorite Mailman, former Utah Jazz superstar Karl Malone.
"Karl's been up here and hunted with me quite a bit," Jones said. "Karl's a good friend, and his wife is from Idaho.
"He shot a moose while hunting with me, and we sent his brother-in-law down to go get some guys to help us get this moose out. We had about a mile to get him out, and by the time those guys got back in an hour, we had it packed out on our backs.
"That guy's an animal," he said of Malone. "He's heavy enough that you'd put a 200-pound quarter on him and it didn't bother him. That's one thing he really enjoyed when he was playing was to come up (to Jones' ranch in Liberty) and get his workout in on the mountain."
KIDS, GRANDKIDS AND COACHING
In addition to Parker, Rulon and Kathy have raised four other sons — Garet, Dalton, Chase and Hayden — who all played football at Rulon's alma mater, Weber High, but none of them inherited the great size, strength and ability that their dad possessed. Their only daughter, Lauren, was also an athlete and played basketball at the College of Eastern Utah.
"They were all good athletes, and all the boys were about 6 foot 2," Jones said of his sons. "But Lauren's 5-11 and she was probably my best athlete."
In all, Rulon and Kathy have 13 grandchildren.
He's been pleased to see Utah State's program enjoy a resurgence over the last few years, but he admits "I haven't been as true of an Aggie as I probably should be."
As far as possibly having a future in football someday, Jones isn't the least bit interested.
"People have asked me about coaching, and I say 'No, no, no,'" he said. "There's no way."
After all, he's mighty content just living the good life on his ranch in Idaho — about as far away from football as a guy could get.
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