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Friday, July 19, 2013
A new team to watch for 'Hootie' Jones

By Damon Sayles

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The nation’s No. 2 safety, ESPN 300 Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville), was in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex on Thursday and Friday, taking in all that TCU had to offer.

When he left, he had a new perspective on a school not named LSU or Alabama. In fact, it was enough to make him think about a third school in regards to his recruiting process.

The No. 23 player in the ESPN 300, Jones visited TCU and was on the sidelines watching Friday’s TCU camp. At 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, the four-star defensive back nicknamed “Hootie” was easy to spot -- and he also was recognizable to people around him.

“It was real nice. I guess everybody knows me here, so it made me feel more comfortable,” Jones said. “I really like the facilities ... but it’s kind of hot here. Other than that, that’s about it. I liked it.”

Jones said LSU and Alabama had been the teams to beat as he continues to weigh his college options, but TCU enters the race as a definite wild card after a productive visit. In fact, Jones gave it an extremely high mark that other schools have yet to receive.

“They’d be in my top five if I had to name a top five,” Jones said. “I can’t really name a top five, because I don’t have one, but they’re high on my list.”

Jones, a high school cornerback projected to move to safety in college because of his size, is being recruited to TCU by co-offensive coordinator Rusty Burns, a coach he described as “a really good dude.” He had a chance to check out the facilities and see the campus as a whole.

Jones also had kind words to say about head coach Gary Patterson, who has built a respectable program and a legitimate Big 12 contender.

“I like what he’s done for the program. He’s kind of picked up a little bit,” Jones said. “All of the players are telling me about how good he is and not trying to feed me lies. I like him.”

The TCU visit comes after Jones took in a trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for Alabama’s camp. Jones said he enjoyed visiting with coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide coaching staff, but the trip to Fort Worth allowed him to see a different environment.

“I’m looking to see different schools, since I’ve really just been around SEC schools,” Jones said. “I’m trying to open up and visit more schools and see different cultures.

“I’m kind of used to being at Alabama. It was like every other time, pretty regular for me. With Coach Saban, we became closer to each other, but other than that, everything’s the same.”

Whether or not Jones will commit soon is still to be determined. Jones said he will take his time with the process and will focus on preparing for the upcoming season. In addition to being the No. 2 safety, he’s also the No. 4 player in Louisiana and the No. 14 in the Southeast Region.