Excellent athlete still a 'sleeper'

Essentially "hidden" from much of the recruiting press the past few months, that doesn't mean that Jeremy Jones isn't a target of several big-time schools, including the Crimson Tide.

There are plenty of reasons why an athlete gets overlooked by recruiting writers, and Jeremy Jones (6-4, 280, 4.8) has his share. A basketball player for most of his prep career, the Harvery, Louisiana native came late to the football scene.

In a recent interview with Gene Swindoll of Gene's Page website, Jones explained. "This is my first year to play football. I was a basketball player. I have been playing football for (only) five months."

Jones did play football this season for West Jefferson High School, but much of the early publicity went to teammate Marlon Favorite. In a way, Jones was overshadowed a bit--at least in terms of press. But scouts that saw both players in person say that Jones compared quite favorably with the more highly touted Favorite.

Easily the biggest reason why many have overlooked Jones was due to injury. After suffering an ACL tear during the season, many recruiters frankly looked elsewhere.

But not Bama's Buddy Wyatt.

Having scouted him earlier when Wyatt coached at Texas A&M, the Tide D-Tackle coach knew Jones was a quality athlete. Similar to LSU's bookend D-Ends this past season who were both big and fast, Jones started out as a tight end but is rapidly growing his way out of that position.

A huge, mobile tight end in high school, Jones has the ability to be a top-notch lineman on either side of the ball on the next level.

Asked by Swindoll whether he might be the biggest tight end in high school football, Jones laughed. "At 280 (pounds), I ran a 4.8 (in the 40-yard dash)," Jones said. "If I can get down to 270, 260, I can be a 4.6 guy."

At this point nobody is discouraging Jones from any plans. After all, Arkansas started a 285-pound tight end this past year. But it's understandable why most pundits see him as either a defensive end or on the O-Line.

Jones took an official visit to Mississippi State this past weekend and liked it fine, but Alabama's principal competition for the big man will likely come from in-state LSU.

"Next weekend I am going to Alabama," Jones told Swindoll following his visit to Starkville. "It'll be Alabama (1-16), Auburn (1-23) and LSU (1-30)."

Like most recruits, Jones doesn't want to shut off any options, but the Bengal Tigers have his ear.

"I'm real open," he told Swindoll. Then later he acknowledged, "LSU is still my leader."

Virtually ignored for most of the recruiting process, all of a sudden Jones is receiving plenty of attention. Swindoll wondered if it had become a bit overwhelming.

"Kind of," Jones replied, "but (my high school coach) has always told me the sky is the limit. You just take it and run with it."

RECRUITING NOTES: Jones genuinely likes Coach Wyatt and Alabama. This weekend's official visit will be crucial. Also, this year LSU is essentially signing whoever they like, which means that there may not end up being room for Jones in their signing class. The LSU coaches could have scheduled him for an official visit anytime they liked, but they chose the very last weekend before signing day, often a time slated for "fall back" recruits.

Alabama is allowed to bring in 19 new scholarshipped players this fall. The Tide is expected to sign as many as 24 players in February, anticipating that several will not become qualified. It's also possible that one or more players may be asked to delay entry into The University until the following January, counting against 2005 scholarship numbers, depending on how qualifying issues play out.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Gene Swindoll of Gene's Page on TheInsiders.com network contributed to this report.

Read all of the recent recruiting stories on Alabama recruits from TheInsiders.com.


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