AUSTIN (KXAN) — Christian Jones has been a pillar on the Texas Longhorns offensive line for the past three seasons, starting in 35 games while playing in 48. Since he decided to use his extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted players due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sixth-year 321-pounder out of Cypress Woods has seen quite a bit during his time on the 40 Acres.

“I’ve been here longer than some of the bricks in the building,” Jones said. “But this locker room is very special. It’s a brotherly bond. People are staying late and getting extra reps in voluntarily. Nobody is telling them to do that.”

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It has been a theme early in fall camp that chemistry is going to take the Longhorns where they want to go this season, and with all five starting offensive linemen returning from last season, that position could perhaps shine the brightest in that regard. Offensive line coach Kyle Flood said it’s unique to have all five starting big fellas return from the year prior, and he’s counting on all that experience to manifest itself on the field.

“I feel like we’ve got eight guys right now that we can win major college football games with,” Flood said. “Ultimately, playing time and starting positions are going to be earned. A preseason depth chart is just a starting point.”

Jones is one of the eight, of course, and he was recently named to the Danny Wuerffel Trophy watch list. The award is given yearly to the college football player that “best combines exemplary community service with academic and athletic achievement.” Sam Acho won the award for the Longhorns in 2010.

He has been a speaker during Kids Day at the George Washington Carver Museum, helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity, assisted clean-up efforts after Hurricane Harvey and has made visits to children at Dell Children’s Medical Center. He’s also been part of the Children’s Inc. Parade and the Austin ISD KidsFest.

“I’m extremely thankful for that, to be recognized that way,” he said. “I have a lot of lofty personal goals and I’m glad to tack that on. I really love service, I love being in the community and I have to credit that to my family. I love bringing smiles to kids’ faces.”

Part of being a leader is solving problems, and Jones said nearly all the offensive linemen have some level of leadership qualities that helps the problem-solving process. It’s a judgment-free zone in the meeting room, he said.

“If people feel more comfortable talking to me, they come talk to me and I tell the group. If they feel more comfortable talking with Hayden [Conner], Jake [Majors] or Kelvin [Banks], they talk to them and we try to solve it. We’re trying to be us versus the problem instead of us versus us.”