Tech’s Roddy Jones explains jump to ESPN

Former Georgia Tech star Roddy Jones, pictured here in 2014 as the Yellow Jackets' radio analyst, will be working for ESPN as a sideline reporter in 2017.

Three years ago, Roddy Jones was about to start his first year as analyst for Georgia Tech’s radio broadcasts alongside then-Tech voice Brandon Gaudin. The former Yellow Jackets captain couldn’t have guessed that, three years later, he would be in the employment of ESPN as its newest sideline reporter.

“No way,” Jones said Wednesday, the day his hire was announced. “Not at all. Honestly, when I took the job to replace Rick (Strom, the previous analyst) with Brandon, I thought I was going to be doing that forever.”

Jones’ talent and ambition has precluded that. He was paired with Gaudin for one year before moving to Raycom and the ACC Network, where he worked ACC sidelines for two years. His immediate goal, he said, is to not mess up.

“It’s definitely something that’s really humbling,” he said. “Just being around the guys who are part of the broadcast that they put together and just the overall quality of what they do and how long they’ve done it, it’s pretty cool to be a part of.”

It does not rate as a surprise. Intelligent, articulate and charismatic, Jones seems a natural for the job. His achievements as a Yellow Jacket – four-year starter, captain, a memorable role in Tech’s 2008 upset of Georgia – may have helped him get into the Tech broadcast booth, but presumably had little to do with landing the next two jobs.

Jones’ plan was to stay with the ACC Network for another year before reevaluating. However, he hired an agent after the 2016 season (Vision Sports, which also represents Gaudin, now with the Big Ten Network, Westwood One and EA Sports). But the agency helped Jones secure an interview in June with ESPN, after which he was hired.

“I was really happy with Raycom, but you’re always looking for the next gig and kind of looking forward,” Jones said.

He said it was hard to break the news to Raycom, particularly producer Rob Reichley and his play-by-play partner Dave Archer. But Jones’ goal is to be fulltime in sports broadcasting – his “real” job is selling modular carpet for Interface – and this seemed the next step. ESPN’s launch of the ACC Network in 2019 seems a possibility down the road.

“Hopefully, they like me enough where this’ll lead to some other stuff, and even if it doesn’t with them, obviously, having that (ESPN) name behind you, it can open up some other doors,” Jones said.

It has been an eventful year. Jones, 28, got married in May to the former Jackie Lucas, a former volleyball star at Wake Forest.

Jones will team with Anish Shroff (play by play) and Ahmad Brooks (analyst) and work Saturday games. He said the crew will work nationally. ACC, Big 10, Big 12 and SEC games would seem the most likely, as ESPN doesn’t have rights to many Pac-12 games. The scope of his college football knowledge will have to expand.

“Previously, I probably wouldn’t pay attention to what people are saying about Kansas State being a surprise in the Big 12, but now I’ve got to pay attention to it,” he said.

Jones acknowledged he owed gratitude to Strom, the former Tech quarterback who left the Tech broadcast team after nine seasons to devote more time to watching his children’s sporting events. Without the vacancy, it’s conceivable Jones’ broadcast career might still be on the launch pad. To his own credit, though, Jones seized the opportunity and has maximized it.

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