Patience Paid off for Otis Jones

For some players, recruiting does not come easy. Attention during your junior year is nearly non-existent and as a senior you wonder if the offers will ever come. Otis Jones knew that his recruiting path was running slowly, but he chose to turn frustration into hard work. This year one of ASU's newest defensive linemen is ready to prove that waiting for him was worthwhile.

As a junior Otis Jones was a mere 5-11 230 defensive tackle. Hitting the weight room, along with Mother Nature helped start the successful transformation prior to his senior campaign at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, Calif.

"My junior tape wasn't much," said Jones who tallied 30 tackles (16 solo), with 2.0 sacks and two quarterback hurries in 2006. "After my junior year I grew to 6-2 and weighed 250. You just saw a different player my senior year. My size and my technique just continued to improve."

His recruiting coach at Arizona State, Wide Receivers Coach Eric Yarber, did pay a visit to the defensive tackle following his junior year. "I was much smaller, skinnier so just like the other schools Arizona State wasn't showing that much interest," Jones recalled, "but I remember that he was very nice back then and I enjoyed meeting him."

Iowa State was the only program who consistently recruited Jones since his junior year and was the first offer the lineman received. While Jones appreciated that, he had his sights on schools of a different caliber and closer to home.

"What really motivated me to get better for my senior year was seeing my older friends get offers to play at schools like USC," he noted. "I knew that I wanted to get a college scholarship to a school like that."

His improvement in 2007 was noticeable to say the least. Jones collected 73 tackles, seven sacks and two fumble recoveries for the Olympians, stats that were anything but run of the mill. Yet with his team struggling to a 6-5 record, his solid senior showing didn't garner much reaction from other schools during the regular season.

"When I wasn't getting interest during the season or right after, I wasn't down on myself or anything like that," Jones stated. "But I was always wondering ‘man, what else do I need to do so more schools look at me?' But I just waited until teams saw my tape and then I got more offers."

Indeed, that game film that was distributed out by his coaches created the outpouring of scholarship offers Jones had hoped for. Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and Washington State extended offers. At that time the Sun Devils were one of the schools showing interest but no offer. Jones indicated that the fact that ASU came in a little earlier compared to most of the schools helped keep the Leuzinger's standout become extremely interested in the maroon and gold.

"I didn't know much about Arizona State or a lot of the schools that were recruiting me," said Jones. "My coaches told me that Dennis Erickson was a real good coach that won national championships, so when I heard that I really got interested. I remember watching Arizona State play last year and they started out real well with an 8-0 record and they were on the top. You could tell they were a good team with a good defensive line. But watching them back then, I never knew I was gonna end up playing for them in the end."

Ultimately, Arizona State was the only school Jones visited outside of Iowa State (Jones had planned to visit Oregon after his ASU trip). The Devils offered the lineman shortly after he landed in Tempe and matters developed fairly quickly from there.

"I had a great time during the visit and committed the first night I was there," said Jones. "To be honest I really thought I would commit to Arizona State before I went there on the trip and I liked everything I saw on the visit. I liked the coaching staff a lot. Coach Erickson was the first ASU coach to ask me to come on a visit and really showed a lot of interest in me."

At times schools can afford to move late on a local prospect and have them de-commit in their favor with the lure of playing close to family and friends. That strategy even worked for ASU a few times in recent years. For a couple of weeks after his verbal, it seemed as if Jones could have reneged on his commitment and go with a school located in his backyard.

Two weeks after his commitment to ASU, his childhood favorite team, the UCLA Bruins, came with an offer which Jones admitted at the time that he was waiting for. He did have to improve his SAT score a bit to qualify, but stated that since he was going to retake the exam as it is, this wasn't an issue.

Ultimately, Jones realized that staying home may necessarily be the best scenario for him.

"I realized that if I really wanted to make it somewhere, I really have to get out of where I'm at right now and see things different," he said. "But also things were going on there at UCLA…changing coaches, and they just took too long to offer me too. They had their chance."

While working out in anticipation for his arrival on campus, Jones has improved his bench press by 45 lbs. to 390. His squat record stands at 475 lbs. "I think I need to work on my pad level, be lower and be stronger. Just work overall work on my technique," he said of his attributes. "I do make good contact with the offensive linemen because I'm athletic and I can get off the ball pretty fast."

"Coaches said that they can see me competing for playing time this year and that I'm one of the most athletic defensive linemen they have. I have a great opportunity and I'm gonna work hard so I can play."

Nonetheless, Jones is also prepared for the opposite scenario.

"If I don't play as a freshman, I won't be disappointed," he claimed. "Like all freshmen, I have a lot to learn. I know they recruited a lot of defensive linemen and that kind of made me nervous in the beginning. But I'm gonna work hard and hopefully get to play."

It took a fair amount of time for Otis Jones to gain recognition. Now, that he has achieved that he's fueled with incentive to not only reward ASU with its faith in him, but also demonstrate his skills to those schools that doubted him or showed little attention.

"Right now I want to prove everybody wrong and show I can play at the next level," said Jones. "Those games against UCLA and USC give me a lot of motivation. Every school that didn't show me love, or came at me very late – those are the schools that made me mad and those I want to show what I can do."

Otis Jones patiently awaits his opportunity.

Recruit Profile

Name

Otis Jones

High School

Leuzinger HS (Lawndale, Calif.)

Position

Defensive Tackle

Height

6-2

Weight

285

Date of Birth

8/19/90

Birthplace

Los Angeles

Nickname

"O.J."

Favorite TV Show

"Smallville"

Favorite Movie

"The Wood"

Favorite Singer

"Jagged Edge"

Favorite Food

"Chicken"

Favorite Drink

"Strawberry Lemonade"

Favorite Athlete

"Justin Tuck"

Favorite Pro Team

"Los Angeles Lakers"

Person you most admire

"My mom. She has helped me go through everything I did."

First Football Memory

"My freshman year is when I started playing football. I was playing offensive line and a defensive lineman ran me over. I wasn't too big then (laughs)."

One Thing most people don't know about me

"I like to listen to all kinds of music, both the hype and the soft kind."

Why did you choose ASU?

"It was a good opportunity for me to see something different and get a good chance to make it to the pros from there."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"In the NFL. If I don't go there I'd like to own my own business, something in the area of football training."


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