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Many people consider "work" to be what they do for a living.

For Steve Jones, the longtime radio voice of the Penn State football and basketball broadcasts, the term "work" is hardly an accurate term for what he does.

He’d opt for a better description — "fun."

"I love what I do," Jones said before Tuesday evening's banquet of the York County Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association at Heritage Hills Golf Resort. "I'll do this for as long as they let me. This is one of those jobs that you can keep for awhile if they allow you to."

Jones, a 1980 graduate from Penn State, has been the voice of men's basketball at Penn State since 1982. He took over as the lead broadcaster for Nittany Lions football games on radio back in 2000.

Teaching journalism: In addition to his broadcast duties, Jones has also found the time to teach a sports journalism class at the university each year. While many of the students in those classes go on to careers with the media, one particular former pupil stands out to this day.

"(Former Penn State quarterback) Michael Robinson, who is a great guy, he took my class at Penn State," Jones said with a grin. "So now, every time that I interview him, he always kids everybody that he's talking to his professor and I didn't teach him anything."

Enjoys going on road: Jones couldn't have been happier to have dinner and speak to the gathering of local alumni in the conference center at Heritage Hills. While he earns his keep by talking on the radio about Penn State sports, he enjoys taking that discussion on the road.

"I'll do about a half dozen of these a year," he said. "I really enjoy them. It's great to go out and meet people and talk to them. I have fun with it. It's exciting."

Positive vibes: Fun and exciting are also words that Jones used to describe this year's Nittany Lions. While losing a superstar such as Saquon Barkley to the NFL draft leaves a gigantic hole in the backfield, Jones believes that PSU has all of the pieces to fill that void.

"I think everybody really feels positive about where the football team is," he said. "Now they're young in a couple of spots, but this is college football and there are guys that do move on. You don't have a generational player like Saquon Barkley anymore. They want to shore up what they're doing at linebacker and they want to shore up what they're doing at the defensive tackle spots.

"But they're going into this season with some great strengths. You have the best quarterback in the country, you have a running back that you're excited about. You have some wide receivers that you're excited about and an offensive line that you're excited about, as well as defensive ends and the secondary."

National title talk: It was no shocker that Jones feels that the Lions have a legitimate shot at playing for a national title, provided one thing.

"Now they play in the toughest division in all of college football in the Big Ten East," he said. "There seems to be a tendency for each team to attack each other. I mean, if you survive it, you definitely should be in the college playoff. Penn State is essentially in a 12- or 13-game playoff to get to the college football playoffs."

Praising Parsons: Jones had high praise for five-star defender Micah Parsons from Harrisburg. After shifting from defensive end to linebacker in the spring, Jones feels that Parsons has all of the tools it takes to add his name to the long list of illustrious linebackers at PSU.

"You could tell as each week of the spring went, he got better and better," Jones said. "He became used to the pace (of) college football ... and used to the pace of practice. He had a better feel for what was going on in the field at his position. I really think he's going to be a contributor for them. There's an instinct for playing at the linebacker spot that you can only get as time goes, and, as an athlete, he'll make some plays that will make you sit back and say 'whoa.' He's something else.'"

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.

 

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