By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Chris Jones wasn’t the hottest name in the recruiting world when the 2012 football season started.
Things quickly changed. Jones is now a 5-star recruit and ESPN’s No. 14-ranked defensive end. He wrapped up his prep career Friday night in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field.
Houston’s 6-foot-7, 260-pounder dominated practice all week and narrowly lost the skills challenge.
“I feel like athletically he’s gifted, really gifted, a great prospect,” said Team Nitro teammate Carl Lawson, the nation’s No. 2 defensive end. “If someone gets to work with him, it could be something special. Right now, he still has some things to work on.”
Jones and Lawson could see their college teams face off. Lawson is an Auburn commit, Jones a Mississippi State commit.
Jones got a late start, transferring from Nettleton to Houston.
He came on strong in only six games his junior year, leading the
team in tackles per game, 9.4, with five sacks.
Production spiked this season as he helped the Toppers to a
record 11-win season and had more than 11 tackles per game, 14 sacks and 49 hurries.
‘A GOOD PLAYER’
“Chris is a good player. He’s really long. I can relate to him,” said Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive end and the nation’s top overall recruit.
The two can relate. Both have high-level schools chasing after their services. Nkemdiche has yey to name his college choice. He says Ole Miss is in the lead, with LSU and Florida close behind.
Jones and South Panola’s Antonio Conner were Team Nitro teammates Friday, coached by former San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions head coach Steve Mariucci.
Team Highlight coach Herm Edwards, a former Jets and Chiefs head coach, said Jones and Nkemdiche have what it takes off the field too.
“God gives you the talent.
When you’re young, sometimes you have so much talent, you can just go play,” Edwards said. “If you never have a work ethic, the problem you run into when you get to the next level, there’s about five or six guys just like that guy. They get that part.”