With the return of Georgia's A.J. Green, the spotlight has been off Alabama junior wide receiver Julio Jones.
There was some skepticism about Jones' ability to rebound this season from Oct. 12 hand surgery. He was limited against Mississippi catching only one pass for eight yards.
The malady lasted only a week. On Saturday against Tennessee with a sore hand, Jones had 12 receptions for 221 yards.
"It hurts," he told reporters about his hand after the game. "Everybody hurts. It’s football. So, you just have to be a man and go out there and play. It’s just something you have to block out. It isn’t only me out there playing. Ten other guys are out there counting on me to make plays."
It's the kind of tough performance that exemplifies the kind of player Jones is. Even though he caught 12 passes, Jones never saw the end zone. But he certainly got his team in position to score plenty as the Tide put 41 on the Volunteers.
Playing against man coverage with a safety shadowing over top, Jones displayed his strength and speed. More than anything, he also showed his toughness. It's what sets him apart from every receiver in the nation, other than Green. It's what also could get Jones into the top five of the 2011 NFL Draft.