At her home in New Orleans, London-Jones has a curio cabinet filled with Jacoby's three AFC special teams player of the week awards and his touchdown footballs. Jones used to hand-deliver them, jumping into his mother's arms in the stands whenever he scored with the Texans.

"I'm a proud mama," London-Jones said. "Mama Jones will be at every one of Jacoby's games this season."

Late bloomer

Strong and fast at a sculpted 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Jones is much larger than most return specialists.

It's hard to fathom that Jones was only 5-7, 160 pounds when he graduated from high school.

"I was a late bloomer," said Jones, who spent his freshman year at Southeastern University running hurdles. "I had no scholarships out of high school. I was always the guy who was overlooked."

That changed quickly when Jones walked on at Lane, a small Methodist school in Jackson, Tenn., that competes at the NCAA Division II level.

After a seven-hour drive to campus with his mother, Jones tried out for the football team. During that audition, London-Jones said her son faked out a starting cornerback so badly that the defensive back lost his lunch.

"He regurgitated right there on the field," London-Jones said. "Afterward, the coach asked the cornerback: 'Can we use this guy?' He said, 'Hell, yeah.' I had never heard of Jackson before, but that's where Jacoby's athletic ability blossomed."

Jones experienced a major growth spurt after his freshman year, utilizing the weight room to fill out his frame.

He was named the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year and most valuable player as a senior. He finished with 200 career receptions, 2,750 yards and 21 touchdowns, returning four kickoffs for scores.

"I just grew," Jones said. "I ate my green beans. Life is crazy."

Wakeup call

The crazy life continued for Jones.

Once the Texans drafted Jones with the 73rd overall pick in 2007, he was introduced to a faster-paced, glitzier world.

He had money for the first time after signing a $2.45 million rookie contract that included a $777,000 signing bonus. And he admittedly enjoyed himself, frequenting the vibrant Houston nightlife.

Arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence after recording a 0.13 on a Breathalyzer exam in March 2008, Jones pleaded guilty and was entered into a special program for first-time offenders where he had to attend alcohol education classes.

"That was when the light went off in my head," Jones said. "It's not college anymore. Everybody is looking at you and you represent the organization. You feel like you're on top of the world, but I had to learn from my mistakes. I straightened my act out."

Jones had never been in trouble before, but was suddenly in the headlines for an off-field issue.

"It was a reality check for him," London-Jones said. "I told him he had to be a man and face up to his responsibilities, and he did."