“I’ve played basketball all my life but I just recently converted to a football player a year ago,” said Jones, who is 6-foot-6 and 211 pounds. “I know that football is going to give me a great scholarship to go to school, so I’m going to stick with football from now on even though basketball was my first love.”
The idea of playing football wasn’t some grand epiphany he had on his own. A trainer at Edna Karr talked him into trying out for the team toward the end of his sophomore year.
“I guess I wasn’t going anywhere with basketball. I was the tall guy growing up,” Jones said. “So he asked me why I wasn’t playing football. And I told him it was because I didn’t like contact. But I found out I could catch pretty good, I have great hands and can run for someone my size. So he said I should play tight end and talked me into trying out.”
Jones is getting used to the contact of the sport, both from opponents, literally, and college coaches, figuratively. Coincidentally enough, it was his height that caught the eye of college programs before he even played a game as a junior.
Jones said that his popularity as a tight end prospect gained steam before last season, when college coaches would come to Edna Karr, a perennial power, to recruit ESPN 150 tight end Standish Dobard, who had offers from the ACC, SEC and Big 12 and eventually signed with Miami.
“[College coaches] told me I had a good body and told me to keep working and stick with it,” Jones said. “They said I would get a lot of looks. Standish helped me out a lot, so when coaches would come down to see him they would come see me too. We were always working out together.”
Dobard took most of the reps at tight end but Jones made due with the time he was given, catching nine passes for five touchdowns.
“My biggest surprise has been my ability to get into the end zone,” Jones said. “I never thought I could be doing this. I never thought I’d be scoring touchdowns. It’s shocking to me. It’s surprising. I knew I had the size but I didn’t know I had the skills, too. They really blossomed.”
From crossover to crossing over linebackers, Jones found his niche on the gridiron and has seen his offers list grow because of it.
Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisville, LSU and Tulane all have offered him. And one more school has shown a lot of interest: Texas.
Jones attended the Longhorns’ junior day Feb. 23 with teammate Gerald Willis III, who hold a Texas offer, and told HornsNation afterward that he too was offered.
But there seems to be some confusion about whether an offer was really handed out or if there is merely interest at this point. Jones explained his case.
“Texas has been looking at me for a minute but I never spoke to them until I went down there,” Jones said. “Coach [Mack] Brown told me to get my grades up.
“We went into his office and he said we are going to keep looking at you, keep looking at you, and I guess he offered me. I got my grades up now, so I guess they offered me.
“He offered Speedy and Willis, so I guess I am on the train too. Personally I think that I have an offer. If I don’t, I know I am going to get it. I’m on the verge of getting it. But I personally think I have one because Coach [Larry] Porter has been talking to my head coach every day.”
What is clear, however, is that Jones is extremely interested in Texas and even has the Longhorns No. 1 right now, offer or not. In truth, Texas has always been the top school for him.
“Before football I was always a fan of Texas basketball. I always told myself I was going to go to Texas,” he said. “That’s been my dream school since I was little. I got it in my head that I’m going to Texas. When Texas started to look at me that was really big.”
Jones loves the campus, the coaching staff and the city of Austin. He also has become close with Texas tight end M.J. McFarland.
“We have a great relationship and are always talking on the phone,” Jones said. “He tells me the real deal. I just want to be a part of that.”
Jones said he’d visit Texas “more than one time” in the next few months and will likely make his decision by the end of the spring.