Friday, December 21, 2012
Vols add juco DB in Riyahd Jones
By Damon Sayles and Kipp Adams
New Tennessee commit Riyahd Jones (Garden City, Kan./Garden City Community College) didn’t get the opportunity for the big-time, nationally televised announcement. So the three-star junior college cornerback made his own announcement ceremony by way of Twitter.
“You’ve got to have a lot of fun with stuff like this,” Jones said.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for this opportunity,” he tweeted. “It is truly a blessing to be in this position. I would like to thank all my family, friends, coaches and the rest of my support staff. Without you, this wouldn’t be possible.”
“To all of the schools that offered me scholarships or even thought about it, I thank you. This recruiting process was one of the most stressful things in my life, but this is what comes with the territory of being a recruit. This decision was not an easy one, but at the end of the day, I have to do what’s best for me.”
Jones then concluded by saying, “So I will be taking my talents to … *drinks water * … in January of 2013, I will be attending … I’m taking my talents to the UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE!!!! #GoVols #SEC #RockyTop #GBO”
It’s obvious that Jones had a good time with making his decision, but he added that the decision was not an easy one. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound shutdown cornerback chose Tennessee over offers from Indiana, Kansas State, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
“I committed to Coach [Willie] Martinez at Tennessee last Tuesday,” Jones said. “We were talking on the phone and he asked me if I wanted to be a Volunteer and I said I did. They have a great program with outstanding tradition. It is close to home and I always wanted to play in the SEC. I am happy, my friends and family are happy about it as well.”
In fact, Martinez’s arrival in Knoxville helped seal the deal.
“Martinez recruited me at Auburn, and when he went to Tennessee, he called me and offered me a scholarship last week,” Jones said. “He said he really wanted me and he stayed in contact every day.”
Jones is from the same high school as two troubled former SEC standouts -- Tennessee defensive back Deion Bonner and former University of Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell -- but he hopes Volunteers fans will give him a chance to show he will not have the same legacy in the SEC.
“Just know I am a different person that is coming to Tennessee to make plays, be a contributor in the community and someone for little Vol fans to look up to,” Jones said.
He is set to visit Tennessee on Jan. 6, and will enroll in classes Jan. 10 with three years to play two. He feels he can be an impact player for a program looking to get back to SEC and national prominence.
"Coach Martinez told me the secondary is not too deep, but Coach [Butch] Jones has brought in a staff that is going to work hard toward turning things around,” Jones said. “With a fanbase like Tennessee has, I am looking forward to being a part of giving them something special.”
Committed to Kentucky out of high school, Jones made 22 tackles and a team-leading five pass breakups in 10 games this season after transferring from Georgia Southern following his freshman season.
Originally from Columbus, Ga., Jones roughly will be a 4 ˝-hour drive to Knoxville, Tenn., for his family. Jones also said playing in the SEC was huge -- a reason why Mississippi State and Ole Miss also made his top list.
“If you look over the draft last couple of years, some of the best defensive backs have come from the SEC,” he said. “If you play there, it’s the toughest conference in America. It’s the closest thing you can get to in college to the pros.”