Barrett Jones Will Return For 2012

As long as Nick Saban is recruiting outstanding players, an annual question is going to be which ones elect to finish their careers at the end of a three-year Crimson Tide career. Barrett Jones gave his answer Friday, and it was good news to the Bama nation.

Barrett Jones is a three-year starter for Alabama and he announced following Bama'S Friday practice that he will be back for his final season of eligibility. Jones is in his fourth year at Alabama and earned his degree prior to the start of this season. He is known in great part for his 4.0 grade point average, and this season he was also winner of the Outland Award as the nation's top offensive lineman.

Friday Jones said that he has decided that he "will be coming back to Alabama next year for my senior season.  

"I just sat down with family, kind of made a list of pros and cons, and decided that I love college and I love being at Alabama. I love putting on the Crimson jersey. I have a great group of friends. I'm in no hurry to get to the NFL, and I definitely do want to play in the NFL one day, but I'm in no rush. I have one more year of college and I'm really excited about it."

Jones and his Alabama teammates are practicing for the BCS National Championship Game. The Crimson Tide, 11-1 and ranked second in the nation, will meet LSU, 13-0 and ranked first in the nation, in the New Orleans Superdome on Jan. 9.

Speculation on whether Jones would return has centered--no pun intended--on his best position for the NFL. Jones was Bama's starter at right guard in 2009 and 2010, then moved to left tackle this season. He has also had a few snaps at center and some believe that is his best chance in professional football is at center. William Vlachos, Bama's center the past three years, completes his career in the BCS National Championship Game and many believe Jones will move to center for his final season.

"I honestly don't know what next year will bring," Jones said. "Obviously I've heard the scenarios. I don't know where I project best at. The boys ask me what are you best at and you read on-line and everyone else knows what I'm best at: ‘no Barrett's not a natural tackle, he's not a natural guard, he's more of a natural center.' Who knows? I honestly don't know the answer and I've heard different things from different people. We'll just see where next year goes. I feel like I've done all right at tackle. I've had a decent year and it's fun playing out there.

"I think you feel the most comfortable where you've played lately. (Left tackle) is where I feel more comfortable right this second more than the right guard and any other position on the field.  But I don't know if comfort is a barometer for what you're best at. Honestly I was nervous at the beginning of the year. Looking back it's easy to say that, the first few games especially. I did have some questions personally, could I do this. I had to really spend a lot more time on technique and those-type things than I did the year before, coming to a position I already knew. It was a very challenging year, living through it and learning a position that was so different. It's fun and the hard work paid off, and I ended up having a pretty good year there."

That discussion led naturally to the expectations for the Alabama offensive line in 2012, which now will lose only Vlachos.

Jones said, "I feel great about it. I think we had a really good offensive line this year, and I think we have a chance to have a really, really good one next year. We've all talked about it, obviously, and are really excited knowing the group we have coming back. We'll have some special players on that line."  

Jones admitted that it was a tough decision. "It was a very difficult decision." he said. "I literally made a list of things, of reasons why I would leave and reasons I would stay. I guess the main reason I want to stay is I love being here. It sounds cliché, but I don't know if life gets much better than this. I really enjoy being here. I love our coaching staff. Coach (Jeff) Stoutland, I really enjoyed playing for him this year. I just had a lot of fun. It's probably the most fun I've had being on a team, in a long time. I don't know why that is, we have a relaxed great culture this year, it's been a lot of fun to be a part of."

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