Austin Jones has an interesting perspective on Big Game.
The Stanford running back was born in Atlanta and lived in three other mostly eastern U.S. locations before moving to the Bay Area just before high school, so he didn’t grow up with the pageantry and history assigned to the regional rivalry with Cal.
But he’s right in the middle of it now.
“It’s going to be a real personal game for me,” Jones said. “I got a bunch of texts last year: ‘You should have gone to Cal. You guys lost.’ It’s definitely a personal game for me.”
Jones could have gone to Cal or basically any other school, but he chose Stanford after being named The Chronicle’s 2018 Metro Player of the Year. He finished his prep career at Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland with 6,905 rushing yards and 92 touchdowns and racked up another 1,048 total yards receiving.
The four-star prospect chose the Cardinal, for whom he surprisingly played as a true freshman last season.
That easily might have been Jones’ response to the critics saying he should have picked Cal. At a school where even Toby Gerhart, Bryce Love and Christian McCaffrey had limited roles as freshmen, Jones played all 12 games in his first college season last year and had 227 rushing and 108 receiving yards.
As Stanford’s feature back this season, Jones has 109 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries and nine catches for 70 yards.
“They do a nice job. It’s very similar to what they did with McCaffrey and Bryce Love in years past,” Cal defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon said. “Where they’re unique is getting him out into the pass game.”
Stanford’s big receiving corps demands attention and certain matchups on the outside of the field, which should open up opportunities for Jones. He was limited to six carries for 23 yards last year in Cal’s first Big Game win since 2009.
Jones hadn’t seen any of the games before playing in one.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I definitely felt it, just coming out and seeing both crowds split on side to side. You could feel the atmosphere more than any other game.”
Family affair: With campuses separated by just 40 miles, the Big Game always includes some crossover households. Among this year’s most relevant links to both sides of the rivalry is JH Tevis.
The Cal defensive lineman’s father and uncle played at Stanford.
After recording all of five tackles in his first two seasons in Berkeley, Tevis has 12 in the first two games this year.
“The staff feels that JH has always shown the ability to be around the ball,” Sirmon said. “Even when he was first here, he showed a knack for being able to play on the edges, to play blocks and to disengage.
“He’s just going to continue to get better. He’s got a great sense of what we ask him to do technique-wise and within the schemes of the defense.”
Rusty Simmons is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected]