Local athletes prioritize staying in shape during coronavirus

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) While the coronavirus has disrupted the usual flow of everyday life, it hasn’t stopped area football players from keeping in shape and preparing themselves for the fall.

Union wide receiver Jamarcus “Julio” Jones has been working out on his own weekly. After a breakout junior year, he wants to have an even better senior season and knows he has to work hard during this time to separate himself from others.

“You know what they say, people want to be a dog but they don’t want to put in the work to be a dog," Jones said. "Everybody wants to be great but they don’t do the work to do it. I just want to be the best that came through here.”

The Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) announced May 11 that all member schools won’t be allowed to hold offseason workouts until at least June 1 or until further notice – meaning that date could be pushed back even further.

It’s not easy to motivate oneself to work out in the Mississippi heat when the norm has been to stay home – but Jones realizes the work he puts in now will be worth it later.

“Say if I’m in the season and I get tired really quick I’ll say ‘dang, I wish I ran those sprints harder back in the summer,'" Jones said. "When I go to college I want to be college ready – Division I ready. I don’t want to have to sit out a year...I want to be ready to play.”

Jones has been posting his workouts on social media to show college scouts he’s serious about playing at the next level. At the same time, he hopes the videos may inspire other athletes to stay committed to working out during this time.

“I want to motive people and say ‘don’t let something like this stop you from putting in the work’ because come season,'" Jones explained. "When this is all over, you’re going to have a lot of people who are probably not as strong as they were, fast as they were so you want to be on top of your game so you can go above them.”

Former Philadelphia wide receiver Tulu Griffin has also been conditioning to prepare for when SEC facilities reopen and he can work out with his new team at Mississippi State.

“I’ve been working out with Kiery (Stribling) and we’ve been coming out here three days a week so we’ve just been grinding ever since then," Griffin said. "I don’t feel comfortable going up there without working out so I had to work out so I can be ready because I don’t want to redshirt for nothing.”

SEC presidents and chancellors are set to vote May 22 on whether or not school athletic facilities will re-open in June. In the meantime, Griffin and his former teammate Kadarius Calloway, who is committed to Mississippi State, have been working out together in Philadelphia.

“Four weeks ago, me and Calloway just sat down and said ‘we need to work out before the football season starts' so we can be ready and it just started from there," Griffin explained. "We’ve been doing cone drills in the sand and then in the grass we’ve been doing routes and conditioning after. It's been good."

Making the jump from 2A high school football to a Power 5 college football program can be a difficult transition – especially with the uncertainty of when SEC workouts will even begin.

Griffin is using the doubt people have about him being from a small school as motivation to be even better at the college level.

“Yeah I hear that a lot but it don’t phase me at all because I know what I’m capable of so it really doesn’t faze me at all," Griffin said. "I’m really confident even coming from a small town so it's all good."