By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
HOUSTON – Chris Jones put on his latest jersey Friday and only 89 other high school players in the country can say that.
The 6-foot-6, 255-pound Houston High defensive end and Mississippi State commitment was presented his 2013 Under Armour All-America jersey in a presentation at the school by game sponsor American Family Insurance.
The sixth-annual Under Armour All-America Game is scheduled for Jan. 5 at 4 p.m. at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“In a way it’s a surprise, but I work hard all year to get where I am,” Jones said. “It’s great. The hard work pays off.”
Many on the ESPN 150 list are scheduled to play, including Loganville (Ga.) High defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top prospect, who is reported to be considering Ole Miss. Players will have three practice sessions at Orlando’s Wide World of Sports to start the week-long event.
Going into Friday’s state quarterfinal game, Jones had 148 tackles this season, an average of 11.4 per game, to go along with 13 sacks and 46 hurries for the Hilltoppers.
‘A huge move’
“I’ve improved in many aspects of the game. It was a huge move on a late decision,” Jones said. “I’m looking forward to playing with some of the best players throughout the nation.”
Houston (11-2) entered Friday’s MHSAA Class 4A quarterfinal at Louisville with a school-record 11 wins, including the school’s first playoff victories.
Last season, his first after moving from Nettleton, Jones played in only six games and averaged 9.4 tackles and had five sacks.
Houston coach William Cook was asked about Jones’ attributes that stand out to college coaches.
“His attitude, his leadership and the intangibles you can’t coach, his size, his wingspan, his speed, and then his effort is never-ending,” Cook said.
“We’re glad he’s giving us the publicity, bringing people in to see our program, our kids, this town and this community to see how great it is.”