Dominic Jones Named Gladiators Defensive Backs Coach

The Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League announced on Thursday the hiring of Dominic Jones as the team’s new defensive backs coach. Jones enters his first season as a coach after capping off a very successful four-year career in the AFL in which he collected 337.5 tackles, nine interceptions, seven defensive touchdowns, five fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles, and two Gladiators franchise records in his career. Jones also earned Second-Team All-Arena honors as a kick-returner in 2013.

“I’m excited,” Jones explained. “Obviously I played the majority of my career in Cleveland so to be able to continue that in a coaching aspect under Coach [Ron] Selesky and Coach [Steve] Thonn, two of the best minds in the AFL, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity. I’m just happy to be able to stay in the game.”

Despite being only 5’9”, 190 lbs., Jones always played bigger than his size, building a reputation as one of the most physical and hard-hitting defensive backs in the AFL. His style of play and leadership skills proved to be a key component to the success of the Gladiators ‘No Fly Zone’ secondary in 2014, which helped lead the team to a historic 17-1 season, an American Conference Championship, and an appearance in ArenaBowl XXVII.

“We are very excited to have DJ back with our organization as part of our coaching staff,” said COO/VP of Franchise Operations Mike Ostrowski.  “His passion and knowledge for the Arena game and the leadership qualities he demonstrated for many years on the field will be a tremendous benefit to our players.”

Head coach Steve Thonn knows that Jones’ playing experience will be invaluable to have on their staff.

“It’s great to have DJ join our coaching staff,” Thonn said. “His experience as a player in this league will be extremely valuable in assisting our defensive backs. He also brings that element of intensity to the staff that he showed when he was on the field.”

Ostrowski had similar thoughts when discussing how big of an advantage it is to have Dominic join the coaching staff.

“Having him in the locker room every day working with our guys and providing that strategic edge in the way he sees the game as a former player will be a huge asset for us,” Ostrowski continued. “Along with Coach Thonn, Selesky and Smith, DJ will be a great addition to our group.”

Transitioning from being on the field as a player to being a coach on the bench will be tough to get used to for Dominic, but he’s excited for what lies ahead.

“It’s going to be bittersweet,” Jones said. “I’m going to have those same butterfly jitters that I got as a player. I don’t think you ever really lose that. I’ll just need to get myself into a different routine, maybe change up my music list a bit. It’ll be new for me but I just have to find my groove.”

Once Jones does take the field for his first game as a coach, Jones already knows what to expect from his players.

“I want our guys to create their own identity,” Jones added. “I want those guys just coming into the league to make a mark for themselves. I want them to get out there and appreciate the game that they’re playing because you never know when it’s going to be gone. Within that, I expect the guys to go out there and play for each other.”

In addition to his coaching duties, Jones will play a role with the team off the field as he will help represent the Gladiators at events and appearances in the marketplace, further develop relationships with the youth, high school and college football community and will participate in various Gladiators community relations efforts in Northeast Ohio.

A Columbus, Ohio, native, Jones played his senior season at Otterbein University where he earned First-Team All-America honors as well as All-Region, and All-Ohio Athletic Conference. Prior to that, Jones had a two-year run with the University of Minnesota, where he tallied 137 tackles in two seasons with the Golden Gophers.

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