It all started on Saturday, Sept. 8. One hour into the game between Nebraska and Colorado, former Huskers defensive back Chris Jones sent a tweet aimed at a current Huskers defensive back: sophomore Dicaprio Bootle.
@Thekidstan yu need to help @_flightsdelayed wit his hands 🤦🏾♂️
— Chris Jones (@Joneschosen1) September 8, 2018
Bootle had a good day against Colorado. He had three total tackles, one solo and two assists. He also had two passes broken up. The key for Jones, though? No intereceptions.
Jones stayed mostly quiet on the interception front for nearly two months that followed that intitial interaction. He and Bootle did go back and forth a bit, but it was mostly with words of encouragement.
On Nov. 4, one day after Nebraska’s 36-31 loss to Ohio State, everything changed.
Jones and Bootle’s time at Nebraska overlapped in 2016 and 2017. Jones was a junior in 2016, Bootle a redshirt freshman. The two hail from Florida and quickly formed a strong bond. Jones even considers himself an older brother to Bootle.
So when Bootle’s sophomore season started to include more and more pass breakups with no picks, Jones had to say something. He especially couldn’t help himself when defensive lineman Peyton Newell got an interception against Bethune-Cookman and defensive lineman Mick Stoltenberg got one against Illinois.
“I think in the beginning of the season where I think he could've had a pick then, he dropped it, and then it's been some other games where I was like, ‘Man, this boy should have had a pick by now. All these passes being thrown at him, getting a lot of PBUs,’” Jones told Hail Varsity. “PBUs are good, but coaches want to see you make plays so we need picks.”
We want picks!!!!! When we want em??? Now!!!!!! 😂😂😂😂 it’s all love brudda we already talked about this
— Chris Jones (@Joneschosen1) November 5, 2018
And so, the back-and-forth on Twitter truly began.
“I was like, ‘You know what, I'm just going to say something on Twitter,’” Jones said. “Then it just went on from there. Then it's like, ‘Now you've got Mick and Peyton getting picked before you. We going to keep going until you get one.’”
@_flightsdelayed Wow Mick got one before yu and Peyton 😂😂😂😂 https://t.co/Gn0RUNvV0H
— Chris Jones (@Joneschosen1) November 11, 2018
And Jones wasn’t kidding. He’s kept it going on Twitter with Bootle, but Bootle hasn’t stayed quiet either. He’s chimed in too, joking that Jones “is bored” and selecting a variety of GIFs to react to his “older brother’s” tweets.
"It's definitely friendly. It's nothing too serious,” Bootle said. “He gets bored at times and decides he's going to pick at me. He knows I'm going to say something back. That's just me. I think he's enjoying coming at me right now.”
As for the GIFs Bootle and Jones use specifically, they both have strategies to what they select. For Bootle, it’s either something that’s an established joke with Jones or something he’s feeling right at the moment. For Jones, it’s all about the reaction.
“Whatever his reaction is, I always got something to come back with,” Jones said.
Jones, who is on the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad this season, simply wants the best for Bootle. The sophomore currently has 15 PBUs on the season, which is tied for second nationally. However, he’s the only one out of the top 11 in PBUs without an interception.
Jones would like that to change, but it’s not just about talking on Twitter. He has plenty of advice for the young defensive back on improving his game, which he’s shared with Bootle.
“I tell him every time like, ‘Something will happen in the game, that's part of the position,’” Jones said. “Somebody might catch the ball on you, you might give up a touchdown here and there, but that's part of the game. It happens to people in the league, people in the NFL. Don't feel bad about getting beat, you got to just let it go and play the next play.
“I just try to keep telling him that, ‘Just keep getting better every day, keep getting better every week.’”
Bootle suspects the back and forth will continue with Jones. While Jones says he will “finally shut up” when Bootle gets his first pick, he also admits that won’t last long.
“I’m going to need more,” Jones said. “Can't just have one and be satisfied. We need more.”
With Nebraska preparing to face Michigan State on Saturday, Bootle said he has something in the works for Jones.
LET EM KNOW! AND CJ I GOT SOMETHING IN THE WORKS FOR YOU… KEEP TRYING ME !
— Star Cap 💫 † (@DicaprioBootle) November 14, 2018
What exactly could it be? Bootle smiles thinking about it, but offers only this.
"I have something in the works for him, a personal GIF…t,” Bootle said with a laugh. “Something personal."