Urica Jones remembers precisely when she thought her son Jamarco had a shot at being above average.

“I knew it from the start, actually,” she said, laughing as she recalled his birth 21 years ago. “I was thinking, ‘This is a large kid.’ He was like 23 inches long. He had large feet. I knew he was going to be a pretty big kid.”

Behold, Ohio State’s 6-foot-5, 310-pound senior left tackle Jamarco Jones. Evidently on video, he looks even larger.

“That left tackle you guys have got, I think he’s 6-7, 314. He looks like a corner,” Army coach Jeff Monken said this week as he prepared his relatively undersize Black Knights for their first meeting with Ohio State on Saturday. “He’s out there blocking safeties at the second level. Holy smokes, that guy is a good player.”

Then imagine, “Holy smokes,” if Jamarco had stuck with one of the first three favorite sports in his life. Because as his mother recalled, he wasn’t just “the tallest kid in his class” through school while growing up in Chicago, “he was good at everything he tried.”

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His first love was baseball, where he excelled as a third baseman, first baseman, catcher and of course power-hitting cleanup batter. His next was basketball because, well, he was the tallest guy on the team, and he had some skills.

“And he played golf for a while,” Urica Jones said.

A doting but working single mother whose parents often helped in caring for the fast-growing Jamarco, she said she also got him involved early in a neighborhood youth club. The idea in part was to keep him involved in activities, including sports in the hours after school.

“He was lucky to be coached and mentored by some very good men,” she said.

One of them was his great uncle Larry Henderson, Jamarco said, who fostered his golf interest once it was established by lessons in a youth program.

“I did it for a couple of years,” Jamarco said. “I enjoyed it.”

He didn’t just enjoy it, he was pretty good at it.

“He won some trophies,” Urica Jones said.

One was for winning his age class in a tournament. He couldn’t remember the age but he could remember the edge.

“I was bigger than the other kids so I could hit it farther,” Jamarco said, laughing.

Call it playing to his strengths. But then came his sixth-grade year and his true calling.

Though tall and lanky — the lineman’s weight gain was still a few years away — he was talked into playing football for the first time. That is, playing it on a field.

“I’d always watched it on television, college football and the NFL, and I had played the Madden video game and things, and I always liked the sport,” Jamarco said. “I just never had played it up until then.”

The big kid on the block suddenly became the big kid ready to block, catch, tackle, whatever it took for his pee-wee team. At first, for example, he was a tight end before shuttling over to the defensive line and eventually left tackle.

What he knew for sure was he had found his sport.

“When I finally started playing football I thought, ‘Man, this is perfect,’ " Jamarco said.

From the start, he said, it was fun, even though as a big kid who was putting on weight, he was stuck on the line.

“I loved the challenge of the game,” Jamarco said. “Even now, I like the preparation for a game, studying film. I like knowing what the other team likes to do, trying to understand what to expect, things like that.”

From pee-wee on up, “I’ve been blessed to have a lot of good coaches who could teach me more and more as I grew older,” Jamarco said. “Where I’ve gotten so far, it’s not just on me. I’ve had a lot of people help me out on my journey, and have taught me a lot along the way.”

One lesson probably fostered by his mother, a real estate broker in Chicago, was being financially responsible. Yet she marvels at that trait in her son. He said he always has been that way.

Now take a look at his major.

“I’m going to get a degree in financial planning,” Jamarco said. “I like managing finances and figuring out problems.”

Urica Jones also has been impressed for years with the low-key demeanor of her son, a trait probably brought by her talking too much, she said, laughing again. But she said Jamarco’s determination to gain good grades in school and his paying attention to social and political developments impress her, too.

In other words, his size and work ethic helped him get to where he is today as a football player, but she had a feeling his mind was going to help him earn a scholarship regardless. He’s not just a big leaf floating down the stream.

“Overall, I’m proud that Jamarco knows exactly who Jamarco is,” she said. “He has always been comfortable in his own skin. He was the smart kid who could ball. Sports never defined him.”