By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
HOUSTON – It was closer than even his mother knew, but Chris Jones is taking his talents to Mississippi State.
Houston’s 5-star defensive end ended his highly-scrutinized recruitment Wednesday morning by choosing the Bulldogs over Ole Miss in a signing day ceremony at Houston High School.
“To tell you the truth, I considered flipping,” Jones said. “I was 80 percent on flipping until this morning when I talked to both coaches. I felt like Mississippi State was the best fit for me.”
Jones, the Journal’s 6-foot-5, 255-pound Defensive Player of the Year, committed to Mississippi State last June. He provided plenty of late drama with a pair of weekends in Oxford, one an official visit, both late-night trips he publicly denied planning to take.
He got his parents to both schools for the first time last week and said it was 6 a.m. Wednesday before he made his final decision. He said he hasn’t had much sleep in the last 24 hours.
“It’s been crazy. I’ve had no rest,” Jones said. “I’m happy. Now I can get some rest.”
Jones’ stock shot up after a stellar senior season for the Hilltoppers and two standout performances in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and Under Armour All-America Game.
He went from unknown to No. 2 overall recruit in the country by 247Sports and inside ESPN’s top 50.
Jones’ 11 tackles per game helped Houston to a school-record 11 wins and its first playoff win in school history. He transferred from Nettleton to Houston for his junior season.
The player was visibly exhausted during Wednesday’s gathering.
His recruiting trail became a national topic over the past two weeks, as it became a guessing game as to his whereabouts. Twitter photos surfaced of Jones at Ole Miss and at a Mississippi State basketball game, as did photos of his mother meeting with Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze.
His mother, Mary Woodhouse, said he was “not too close” to signing with the Rebels.
“I’m happy where he’s going. If he’s happy, I’m happy,” Woodhouse said. “His heart has always been with Mississippi State.”