By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
ORLANDO – Chris Jones may have arrived late to the 2013 recruiting class, but it hasn’t taken him long to make an impact at Under Armour All-America week.
Jones arrived at Wednesday’s media luncheon at ESPN Wide World of Sports and was greeted by the nation’s top recruit, Robert Nkemdiche.
The two converged on Orlando this week and will play today in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game at 4 p.m. CT at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on ESPN.
“It’s been pretty good,” Jones said. “You get to compete with the best players in the nation. It’s been exciting.”
Jones was off the recruiting radar until the summer when Mississippi State offered him at its camp. His stock has soared all the way to 5-star status. Scout lists his offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Southern Miss and Southern Cal.
Ole Miss offered him on Tuesday. His official visit date at MSU is set for Jan. 18.
The 5-star commit has been the same old Chris, says Houston coach William Cook, who is here this week.
Cook said his star – 6-foot-7, 255 pounds – has even seen work on kickoff coverage in practice. If Under Armour Nitro coach Herm Edwards lets Jones catch the football tonight, Cook and the Houston staff may be relegated to Jones’ second-favorite football staff.
Cook laughs about a couple of pass plays for Jones that never panned out this season.
“It’s the kind of kid he is. He’s up for anything. He always wants to volunteer. You see him out here at practice going to get dummies for coaches,” Cook said. “He just wants to be a part, do his job and work hard.”
Jones has made himself at home. He joked with ESPN’s Dari Nowkah for a tape-delayed segment on Wednesday.
Herm is impressed
Edwards has been impressed with more than the on-field talent of Jones, as well of that of fellow defensive end and Team Nitro teammate Nkemdiche.
“Sometimes talent can be a curse if you don’t use it correctly,” said Edwards, the former NFL coach, and current ESPN analyst. “We’re talking about two young men who like participating in football. What I mean is they like practice. They understand the importance of discipline and practicing football so you can reach your potential.”
What they’re saying this week about Houston’s Chris Jones:
ESPN: “At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds with a monstrous wingspan, elite athleticism and newly educated on the technique required to play defensive end, Chris Jones possesses all the tools to control a football game.”
SBNATION: “Impressively, Jones is able to play low despite his great height, which is often something that takes time for young players to learn.”
RANTSPORTS: “Jones and (Auburn commit) Carl Lawson have been in the offensive backfield all week.”