Editor’s note: As we approach national signing day and consider the future of Georgia’s football program, we’ll also look backward into the Bulldogs’ recruiting history. Over the next few weeks, we’ll talk with several former Georgia standouts about their experiences as recruits. We begin today with offensive lineman and 2011 team captain Ben Jones.
ATHENS, Ga. -- In the summer of 2007, Ben Jones was one of those prospects who became a rock star on the summer camp circuit.
After dominating some high-profile competition in blocking drills at a prospect camp at Georgia, Jones quickly made himself a household name among recruitniks. But luckily for Mark Richt’s Bulldogs, Jones had a burning desire to play football at his late father’s alma mater -- and he played quickly.
Jones was a starting center for the preseason-No. 1 Bulldogs only a few games into his freshman season in 2008 and essentially held onto the job for the rest of his career. He was an ESPN All-American and All-SEC selection last season as a senior before becoming a fourth-round NFL draft pick by the Houston Texans.
And just like at Georgia, Jones quickly found his way into the starting lineup. Now a rookie right guard, Jones has started the last 10 games for a team that earned the AFC’s No. 3 seed for the upcoming playoffs.
Before the season, he spoke with DawgNation’s David Ching about his recollections from the recruiting trail. Here’s what Jones had to say:
Q: What do you remember most about your experiences as a recruit?
A: I just remember doing the camp and coming out here and seeing all those guys compete and just trying to earn that scholarship to go play for the school that I always dreamed of playing for.
Q: When did you get your first offer and who was it from?
A: Let’s see, my first offer was from Air Force after a Nike camp, I think my junior year. I was like, ‘Man, I got a Division I offer!’
Q: How far along in the process was it that you committed and what was it that made up your mind?
A: Georgia offered me on like June 8th or 9th. I went home because my mom wasn’t here. She was watching my brother play baseball. I talked to her about it and then went to an Alabama camp and got an offer. I had the two teams I wanted and I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to Georgia,’ the next day.
Q: What was it that made you like Georgia better than Alabama? Your brother was at Alabama, right?
A: Right. My family, actually all of them are from Georgia. My dad went to Georgia and graduated. So when he passed, I was like, ‘All right, I want to come here and honor him.’ So I pulled the trigger as soon as I could.
Q: How many schools did you really seriously consider.
A: Just Georgia and Alabama and that was it.
Q: Do you have a good story from your time as a recruit?
A: I’d just say that getting to come to the [Georgia Senior] Gala and getting to see the awards banquet and everything, getting to see that and see the guys dress up and see all the hard work they put into it and the awards they got at the end of the year.