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Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Seals-Jones, family feel recruiting relief

By Sam Khan Jr.

SEALY, Texas -- There were times when it all became a little overwhelming for ESPN 150 athlete Ricky Seals-Jones.

Ricky Seals-Jones
Ricky Seals-Jones and his parents are happy that his decision to attend Texas A&M has been made.
The nation's No. 1-rated athlete in the ESPN 150 and the top prospect in Texas, the Sealy High School star dealt with the things that come to many heavily recruited, highly touted prospects: countless phone calls, messages on Facebook and Twitter, visits to schools or visits from coaches to his high school campus or home.

He actually liked those high school visits.

"They come to the school and get you out of class," Seals-Jones said. "I actually don't mind that [laughing]."

And while it seemed to be too much on occasion, overall, the 17-year-old said he got used to it. He learned how to manage the process, established good relationships with the coaches recruiting him and realized the fortunate position he was in, being recruited by school after school before finally deciding to commit to Texas A&M on Monday.

"It was crazy," said the 6-foot-5, 230-pound four-star prospect. "You get a lot of phone calls. All the coaches call you or they shoot you a text on Twitter or Facebook....It's a lot of hassle but it's fun at the same time. You only get to live it once."

His parents, father Chester Jones and mother Buffy Seals-Jones, were relieved when the moment for Seals-Jones to let the world know his intentions arrived on Monday morning. Seals-Jones announced his decision in the "Tiger Room" at Sealy High before media, friends and teammates with his parents and his grandmother Bobbie Seals by his side.

"I'm glad its over because I work at the elementary and there's a lot of Aggies fans there and they asked every day, 'Has he made a decision yet?' " Buffy Seals-Jones said. "And I'd say, 'No, not yet.' And now I can go back and say, 'Yeah, he made it.'"

Chester could see the stress on his son's face when things got intense, but made sure to help Ricky keep perspective. Buffy said that when Ricky didn't want to take phone calls, Chester would tell him that he should.

He also understands that while the process is essentially over in Ricky's eyes, it doesn't mean recruiting will stop.

"The letters probably won't stop; the phone calls probably won't stop," Chester Jones said. "The only thing that will stop that is that he's going to A&M and he's not going to change his mind. He's going to be fine."

The stress didn't just come from trying to choose between his two finalists, LSU and Texas A&M, but the events that preceded with Texas. Ricky Seals-Jones originally committed to Texas in February, only to decommit in June.

He said that he even received death threats from people on Twitter after his decommitment from the Longhorns. Rumors flew about why Seals-Jones decommitted, but Chester said it was simply because Ricky wanted to visit other schools and ensure he was making the right decision for his future.

Texas continued to recruit him and he continued to rank the Longhorns at or near the top of his list until the Longhorns dropped out of the race in September. They quit recruiting Seals-Jones and the news of that development broke just days after his dislocated kneecap, which he suffered on Sept. 6 in a game against Houston St. Pius X.

"He was a little upset because he didn't know why they quit recruiting him," Chester said. "The thing about it is they did it while he was hurt, so that hurt more. But you move on. You just have to move on from those things. Recruiting is a tough deal. You're only going to pick one. He picked one and everybody moves on, so I'm just happy for him."

After Texas dropped out, Ricky's focus turned to LSU and Texas A&M. When it came to picking between those two, each had its advantages and appeals. He had the chance to visit each but liked the family feel, atmosphere and location of Texas A&M. His mother definitely liked the location part.

"I can sleep better now, knowing where he'll be," Buffy Seals-Jones said. "If anything happens or he gets sick or anything, we can get to him quicker. We're excited. Grandma is excited, too."

And there was one impression that stood out to the family when it came to comparing the schools. When Ricky took unofficial visits to both campuses just two weeks apart, both teams lost tough, hard-fought games. The Aggies dropped a 24-19 decision to LSU, and LSU suffered a 21-17 last-minute defeat to Alabama.

It was what happened after the game in each instance that stood out.

"I think it was sitting and talking with [Texas A&M] coach [Kevin} Sumlin, that he had time for us after the LSU game in his office, even though they had lost," Buffy Seals-Jones said. "I thought that was wonderful, because when we went to LSU -- I'm not trying to be disrespectful or anything -- but their [head coach, Les Miles], he didn't. He invited us down and everything like that and coach [Thomas] McGaughey came out and talked to us, but not coach Miles. So that really impressed me a lot that even though [Texas A&M] lost, that [Sumlin] had time after his press conference to bring us into his office and talk with us and we sat down and had a talk. It was great."

Ricky said that even though calls and letters might come, he's set on this decision.

"This isn't going to change," he said. "I'm good with this one."