By David Kiefaber / November 19, 2017

The Legend of Julio Jones Must Be Seen to be Believed

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver is truly an exceptional athlete.

Julio Jones
Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons runs the ball against James Bradberry #24 of the Carolina Panthers in the first quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 5, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is an exceptional athlete, with a recorded 38.6-inch vertical jump, a 4.55-second 40-yard dash, and no shortage of impressive NFL statistics. But a recent Sports Illustrated profile goes even further than that, describing the 28-year-old as a “superhero.”

Born Quintorris Jones in Foley, Alabama, sports gave the incredibly shy Julio a sense of confidence, and he showed incredible potential as a child. At 11 years old, he could grab the rim of a basketball hoop in duck boots, and as a junior in high school he made a 43-foot long jump after just two walking steps.

His college football career with the Alabama Crimson Tide sounds equally insane. Julio set Alabama’s single-season mark with 78 catches while nursing a broken hand, which required a metal plate and screws set into his palm. He didn’t take any time off after that surgery, and it didn’t affect his game to any noticeable degree.

His effect on the team was immediate; the Crimson Tide won their first national title in 17 years during his sophomore year season, and have won three more since. Alabama coach Nick Saban credits Jones with this change. “What Julio did was change the culture here,” he said.

Jones arguably did the same for the Falcons. His 2016 season was ridiculous;  four receptions, 66 yards, and a touchdown against Tampa Bay, five receptions and a touchdown against the Raiders, and an astonishing 12 passes for a 300-yard team record against the Carolina Panthers, making him only the sixth player in NFL history to get 300 receiving yards in one game.

He wasn’t done, though. Jones had seven receptions against the Seahawks, eight receptions and a touchdown against Tampa Bay, and a ridiculous ten receptions against the the Eagles. By the time the 2016 season ended, he’d managed six touchdowns and 83 receptions for 1,409 yards.

Calling anyone a superhero is a bit much, but Julio Jones’ levels of ability and grit only come around once in a generation. If he can keep this up, he’ll be mentioned in the same conversations as Bo Jackson and Jesse Owens, legends in their own time.