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Monday, February 4, 2013
Intense battle prompts 4-star DE to deceive

By Kipp Adams

The recruiting battle over Chris Jones (Houston, Miss./Houston) got so intense this week that the ESPN 150 defensive lineman resorted to deception, misinformation and clandestine visits to both Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Jones told ESPN.com late Sunday night, his weekend was marked by angry messages from fans of both schools.

Chris Jones
DE Chris Jones is the subject of a heated recruiting battle bewteeen Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
“It was a crazy weekend,” Jones said. “I received death threats, insane messages, you name it. I mean it has not been as stressful as people would think it has been. I have tried to handle it in the most comfortable way possible, so it has really been alright for me, and in the end, I am very blessed to have this opportunity to play for either in-state school.”

Although he initially denied to both local and national media outlets that he visited Ole Miss, Jones confirmed on Sunday the ESPN report of his presence in Oxford. He explained that his decision to keep his travels a secret was based on his desire for independence as an emerging adult.

“This weekend I really felt like I was at the point where I need to make a lifetime decision, and I am grown up enough to make my own choice without anyone telling me where I can and cannot go,” Jones said.

Jones was on the Rebels’ campus early Saturday morning after participating in a high school basketball game on Friday night almost two hours away.

“After the game, I left and got to Ole Miss around 1:30 a.m. with both my parents,” he said. “Saturday morning, the coaching staff told us they could make me a champion, that I would be a great fit for their program and that if I did not make it to the league, which I hope I do, that I would still come out with a great education and a bright future.”

By lunchtime on Saturday, Jones was back home and meeting with the Mississippi State coaching staff at his church. After having lunch with his preacher, the Bulldogs’ coaches and his entire family, Jones and his girlfriend left for Starkville to take in a Mississippi State basketball game.

“It felt good to be back on campus in the atmosphere with my girlfriend,” Jones said.

After the game, Jones told reporters he was heading home, but as ESPN reported that night, he instead ended up back on the Ole Miss campus with his parents around midnight. Jones explained that going back to the campus was more for his parents than anything.

“My parents and I spent [Saturday] night at Ole Miss, and I left early Sunday morning to come home,” Jones said. “My parents stayed until noon then went to Mississippi State. They both wanted to get a look at each program because they both were not able to on my official visits.”

Sunday morning was the last chance for the Rebels’ coaches to have Jones and his parents on campus before signing day, and they tried to make the most of it.

“They told me and my parents before I left about how they compared to Mississippi State at defensive end, how many players they sent to the NFL, how many SEC games they won and how many bowl games they have played in,” Jones said. “Basically they were telling me everything that makes them a better school.”

The No. 46 prospect in the ESPN 150 and No. 2 prospect in Mississippi, Jones has been committed to Mississippi State since June. There is no doubt that Ole Miss has made an impression on Jones’ parents.

“My dad loves Ole Miss and has for a while,” Jones said on Sunday. “He likes Mississippi State, too, but he favors Ole Miss over them. My mom told me after today she loved Ole Miss and that now she is in between liking Mississippi State and Ole Miss.”

As for Jones, he said he feels the future is bright as ever for the Rebels under the new regime.

“I love the coaching staff at Ole Miss,” Jones said. “Hugh Freeze is a great guy and more a mentor than a coach. I told him if he stopped coaching today he could go be a preacher. Ole Miss is a great school that can be a championship team under Hugh Freeze. They have a lot of big-time recruits coming in this year and the potential for the program is as good as anywhere. Ole Miss really showed me a lot, and I did not know they had this much to offer as a program, but really both schools are great.”

On Wednesday morning at his high school, Jones will announce his decision to attend either Mississippi State or Ole Miss. Although he did not mention any change in his status as a commitment to the Bulldogs, it would appear that either program has a shot at landing the highly regarded pass-rusher.

Jones admitted he has a feeling which way he is leaning.

“I think I have my mind made up,” Jones said. “I am excited about the people I will be surrounded with at that program. I have not told my parents, and I am not going to worry about making them or anyone unhappy. I am ready to make the best decision for me. Some people’s feelings might get hurt, but sometimes you cannot make everyone happy. A couple people might get angry on Facebook and Twitter, too, but that is life. I will announce my decision on signing day, and I do not plan to tell either school before then."