By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – It didn’t take Houston’s Chris Jones long to have an impact in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.
The 6-foot-7, 260-pound defensive end entered midway through the first quarter and three plays later had the game’s first sack.
Team Highlight beat his Team Nitro 16-3 in the sixth annual game at Tropicana Field in front of 20,087 fans.
The Mississippi State commit finished with three tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss. He also had two forced fumbles, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.
“I did all right. I feel like I could have done a whole lot better,” Jones said. “I didn’t play as much as I thought I would. I tried to make the best out of the time I did play.”
That included nearly blocking two punts. Both attempts came in the end zone, the first one inches from his glove.
“He’s got an explosive first step, some really great things going for him,” said former Penn State linebacker and No. 2 NFL Draft pick LaVar Arrington. “All he has to do is keep adding things to his toolbox.”
Highlight took a 3-0 lead on UCLA commit Sean Covington’s 25-yard field goal. Alabama commits Cooper Bateman and Josh McNeil hooked up for a 10-0 Highlight lead on Bateman’s 12-yard pass. Ryan Santoso kicked a 44-yard field goal for Nitro.
Jones forced a fumble early in the third in a game that saw 12 turnovers, eight from Highlight Covington kicked a pair of field goals (31, 30) in the fourth.
Jones played for former San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci. Former NFL great Deion Sanders was an assistant.
“They keep the momentum up. The atmosphere was great,” Jones said. “I’m ready to get to the next level.”