SEMIPRO FOOTBALL: Ra! Ra! That's what Lumberjacks fans cheer when Jones gets ball
Ra Ra Jones is blessed.
Ra Ra Jones is blessed.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver for the Brainerd Lumberjacks of the Midwest Premier Football League routinely turns in 100-plus yards of receiving and multiple touchdowns each game, and is gracious about his gift.
“To be completely honest,” Jones said, “it’s God. God gave me talent. I got to give all the glory to God. I don’t work out more then any other guy does, I just play the game to honor God.”
In eight games this season, the 20-year-old Cloquet High School graduate has racked up 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns and is averaging 25 yards per reception.
The Lumberjacks are 6-2 on the year, and when asked about his goals for the season, Ra Ra passionately said the main goal for the ‘Jacks is reaching the playoffs and winning the MPFL championship.
“We gotta win the whole thing.” Jones said. “If winning the whole thing means I have to play differently or play less, then [that’s fine]. At the end of the game, I want the ‘W,’ and the championship. I hate losing.”
Jones said his personal goal is just to do his job as a wide receiver.
“I expect myself to catch everything thrown to me,” he said. “I just need to go up and catch the ball, and everything else will fall into place. The yards after the catch will come with me catching the football.”
The ‘Jacks will send out Mark Hummel to play quarterback Saturday, their third different starter this year at the position.
“Hummel is gonna be the starter. I believe he’s got a strong arm, and he’s gonna do good,” Ra Ra said.
Jones isn’t just a contributor on offense. He also plays safety for the ‘Jacks on defense and believes he’s a better defensive player then receiver.
“I love playing both,” he said. “I love the feeling of a huge catch or a big hit. I love the game.”
Aside from physical tools, the reason behind Jones’ success could be his aggressive playing style.
“I wanna play fast, I don’t let the game come to me,” he said. “I make the opportunity and go get the ball. I don’t wait.”
For a 6-4 wide receiver with a stat line that Ra Ra has put together, one can only imagine that a career in football could be possible for Jones.
“I’ll still be working out,” he said. “Football is only part-time right now, but I wanna play Division I, the high stage, and use my God given gift and ability.”
Jones played basketball and football at Cloquet, but notes that football is his “main” sport, as he formerly played for St. Cloud State University.
He plans to take a year off from college to work to support his 1-year-old son, Ra Ra Jr.
Looking ahead for the Lumberjacks, Ra Ra said “It’s our time. It doesn’t matter who we play. Even if only our 11 best guys were to show up, we would play our best. It only gets better from here.”
The playoffs for the 6-team league will kick off at the end of July, but Lumberjacks coach J.J. Kern and Ra Ra are focusing mainly on Saturday’s 4 p.m. game against the Twin City Rhinos at Shew Field behind Franklin Arts Center.
“We are looking to feature Ra Ra,” Kern said. “I expect him to have a good game. When the game’s on the line, I expect Ra Ra to make a play. It doesn’t matter if we throw it into double coverage, I have confidence in him to make a play.”
“I’ll be mad at myself if I don’t have a good game,” Ra Ra said of Saturday’s game. “Not trying to sound (too confident), but I expect myself to have a good game. It’s natural to me.”
Jones said some people think he plays like former Minnesota Viking Randy Moss.
“I see myself doing a lot of things that he does,” he said, “but I feel I’m a bit more physical. I like Larry Fitzgerald (of the Arizona Cardinals).”
Though Jones’ future career in football may be uncertain, Lumberjack fans have something to cheer about right now. The team is 6-1 with two regular-season games remaining.
After all, like Ra Ra said, “It only gets better from here.”