High school players at the level of BCS commits like Tyren Jones know that all eyes are on them every time they touch the ball or even step onto the field on those Friday nights.
But for Jones, the four-star running back currently committed to Alabama – the entire opposing defense will have its collective eyes on him even more in the short term. Teammate and fellow Crimson Tide pledge Parker McLeod, the Marietta (Ga.) Walton quarterback, has been sidelined with multiple foot injuries.
Even still, Jones put up 187 yards on 32 carries on Friday night against rival Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter, in a tough 21-9 loss to swallow.
"We did all we could," said Jones, who is also coming off of minor injuries. "The line got me in the holes and they figured out what we were doing."
The entire crowd at Lassiter's homecoming anticipated Jones touching the ball on nearly every play, but he was still able to get big-time numbers despite having to dodge tacklers in the backfield on routine. With McLeod out for at least the next game (Walton has a bye next week), Jones will be called upon again.
"It doesn't do anything mentally, I'm mentally strong," said the 5-foot-9, 197-pounder. "I just tell my teammates to stay strong and do our thing. "I'm ready; I'm going to do whatever it takes to help my team get the ‘W.'"
One would think that Jones has a lot to think about at the next level as well. Alabama has youth at the running back position in 2012 and three verbal commitments at the position as of last Friday, when five-star talent Derrick Henry announced for the Crimson Tide. Despite swirling rumors and the uneasy feeling some feel Jones must have while entering a crowded situation, he seems ready for the challenge.
"I'm not worried; competition is going to be there at any school you go to," he said. "I'm just trying to get there, do my best and try to win at my position."
Jones has also been familiarizing himself with the Alabama campus of late, taking a pair of unofficial visits to Tuscaloosa over the last month. It has helped him realize a common misconception about the ‘Bama coaching staff.
"I just learned about the coaching staff, and just their work ethic," he said. "They're so good and everyone thinks it's a fluke (because of talent), but they put in work probably harder than any other SEC team that I've visited."
With all the knowledge with his school of choice and the lack of worry about who else may end up in Tuscaloosa with him in the class of 2013, the shifty running back has a simple official visit plan for the fall.
Said Jones, "Just Alabama at this point, no other schools."