By Morgan Bryce
Running, catching, tackling and returning kickoffs and punts are just a few of the ways Jerquin ‘Joe’ Vines contributes on the gridiron.
A breakout for the East Alabama Predators last season, Vines is now pursuing an opportunity to advance his football career, signing in January with the Sorriso Hornets of Brazil, who are affiliated with the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol Americano.
Vines, a 2013 Lafayette High School graduate, played wide receiver for both Tennessee Tech and Alabama State before personal issues ended his college football career in 2014.
An abbreviated collegiate career did not deter him from his lifelong dream of playing professional football. Vines briefly flirted with the idea of playing for the Detroit Cougars of the Rivals Football League, but decided to return back to the area to play for the Opelika-based East Alabama Predators of the Gridiron Developmental Football League.
After a nearly two-year football hiatus, Vines said the opportunity to suit up for the Predators opening game last year helped him know he had made the right decision.
“It felt great. Since I was little, that’s been the only thing that I looked up to was becoming a professional football player,” Vines said. “And with me not being able to play in a while and then play in that first game, it felt like … I wouldn’t quite say overwhelmed, but it was breathtaking.”
Taking snaps at running back, receiver and special teams, Vines amassed more than 900 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns in six games.
In the offseason, Vines began contacting NFL and CFL teams, and smaller teams in leagues across Europe, with a goal of advancing his football career.
He joined a website, http://www.europlayers.com, which allowed him to create a profile to market himself to teams around the world.
Vines received the offer in January, and said the opportunity was one he could not pass up.
“It was an easy decision,” Vines said of his decision to play in Brazil. “… personally, I’ve been going through a lot lately and my mind’s been full … I just felt like I needed to get away, and if the opportunity presented itself, I would take it. It’s a getaway and it’s doing something that I love … playing football.”
Losing him is a blow to the Predators offense, but offensive line coach Michael Martin said that Vines’ talent will translate to success at the next level.
“He’s very, very athletic … he can play defensive back or wide receiver for us, wildcat quarterback, punt return, kickoff return – he was a well-rounded athlete. We’ll miss him … he’s a real good leader and motivator … he brings the positivity to the offense and to the team,” Martin said.
Vines will move to Brazil this month, and will begin competing later in the month for the team’s first of the league’s two annual seasons. The two-year deal Vines inked with the Hornets includes flights, meals, gym membership and monthly salary.
The first season, which runs from March to June, Vines said he will play strictly on offense and special teams, and said he will add defensive back to his duties in the second season, which lasts from July to December.
Vines’ ultimate goal is to play on Sundays, but for now, his focus is on improving his game in Brazil and sharing his football experience and wisdom with his teammates.
“My first thing is to try and spread my knowledge of football that I know to those guys, and if there’s any weakness in my game, I hope that they can expose it, but I know too what I can work on to improve myself as a player.”
To keep up with Vines’ football career, follow his fan page on Facebook “Jerquin – Joe Vines.”