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March 22, 2013The recruiting process may just be getting started for Murfreesboro Oakland lineman Jack Jones, but Jones' skills and leadership on and off the field are almost certain to make the Class of 2015 prospect a big-time target.
Already hearing from Tennessee, Memphis, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and with his first offer this week from hometown Middle Tennessee State, the 6-foot-4.5, 270-pound Jones also is his sophomore class president, involved in FCA and YoungLife.
And right now, Jones simply is working to improve and embracing the recruiting process.
"I'm really enjoying it. It's kind of a whole new world learning everything," said Jones, who visited Rocky Top for Tennessee's massive 'Family Day' event on March 16 and left town highly impressed. "(Wednesday) was really awesome [to receive his first offer] because it was the team I've been growing up going to all the games, grew up a block away. It's very surreal. Humbling."
Jones, who trains with some of the state's top players including fellow big-time Oakland prospects Emmanuel Smith and Josh Smith, as well as Josh Malone and Rashaan Gaulden in Buck Fitzgerald's Playmakers Academy/InFullMotion program, credited his father for his foundation in football and the Playmakers Academy program for helping him develop.
"I was about 6 years old when I started playing, and my dad (John) coached me all the way till high school. He played offensive line at Tennessee Tech. He knows all about it and he's been my biggest role model," Jones said. "It's just amazing. All I can do is really thank God; I've been dreaming about playing in college since I was a little kid and thinking 'I hope one day that can be me.' It's just crazy and I'm so blessed.
"I really enjoy [training with Playmakers]. We usually go every weekend and do something like that. It's really cool because I do a lot of footwork and pass pro and they'll throw me in there and let me run some tight ends stuff and it helps me work with becoming more athletic."
Jones' athleticism, as well as his on-field demeanor, already have caught the attention of college coaches, he said.
"They like my size and they also watched some film and like how I'm nasty," Jones explained. "My footwork, they like that and how I try to finish blocks."
Jones said he likes being teammates with the Smiths and helping to represent Oakland High School in a positive light.
"We're very, very conscious of that. We also try to stick together a lot. Keep each other in line as accountability partners," Jones said. "With Mann and Josh, who I'm even closer to because we've been playing together since we were 6, we make it a big deal. Our coaches tell us, the weight room and football field is only half of it. Especially if we've got on an Oakland hoodie or sweatpants. We have to have good character."
No stranger to football in this state, Jones discussed the energy and enthusiasm he felt around the Tennessee program on his visit last weekend.
"I really, really enjoyed the UT visit. What stood out was I really liked the energy; they're very passionate and very much wanted to get everyone involved. Family-oriented," said Jones, the only sophomore starter on the Oakland line a year ago. "We walked through the line after practice and players and coaches and families gave us high-fives. I've got three siblings and I love that family atmosphere.
"Their facilities were obviously very impressive. Coaches talked to me a lot. They were very personable. At one point I was sitting there watching and Antonio Richardson looked at me and motioned me to come over and get closer to the drills. They're very welcoming. It's a good group up there in Knoxville."
Jones, who said UT coaches made clear they hoped he would return for the Vols' linemen camp this summer, also expects to check out Vanderbilt, Kentucky and MTSU in the coming weeks. More importantly, he's got an early-April date circled on his calendar when he'll compete in the prestigious Rivals/Under Armour camp in Birmingham, Ala.
"I'm really pumped up for that," Jones said. "I've been training on the indoor field at Oakland, running my 40s and pro agilities, working on speed training. I've been doing that since the beginning of this year. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity."