Coach Jones brought nine players from Westland to get exposure and improve their skills for their senior season. That group included some players that Coach Jones considers to be Division IA talent. "Tony Jackson already has offers so obviously he's a Division I kid. We have Barrett Brooks who's a 6' 4"/315 pound offensive lineman who has a lot of interest. We have Aaron Mickens who's a 6' 4"/204 pound wide receiver. We have Sidney Hill who's a 6' 2"/200 pound field corner. We also have Mark Key who's a 4.2 academic kid that the Ivy League schools really like. He's 6' 5"/240 pounds and has grown three inches and gained 35 pounds since the end of the season. We've got some other kids along for the ride that just want to get better, but our quarterback Kasey Wendell athletically is a Division I kid. He's one of those kids that get caught in a position type deal. Some see him as a DB, others see him as a quarterback, and some see him as a receiver. Athletically, I think he'll find his niche and get something. I know the Air Force Academy is real interested in him, and so is Dayton. So I think we have between two and four in that group."
Quarterback Kasey Wendell
Receiver Aaron Mickens
Defensive Back Sidney Hill
Linebacker Tony Jackson
The "Jeff Jones Tour" started at Miami of Ohio last week, and some of the players went to West Virginia on Sunday. After Monday's visit in Cincinnati, Coach Jones will be taking four of his academically gifted players to Northwestern on Tuesday. They will also make stops this week at Northern Illinois, Illinois, Bowling Green, Pittsburgh, Purdue and Ohio State. Coach Jones is excited for his players. "Westland hasn't traditionally had this many kids that schools want to evaluate so it's been fun. To say we have eight Division I kids is way out there. We're not a Glenville or a St. Ed's or a St. Ignatius, but we have some kids that look the part and that's what these evaluations are for."
Unlike Ted Ginn and his chartered bus, this is a more grass roots movement. Westland's caravan consists of assistant coaches and parents driving their cars. The extra transportation allows the group to also see some different sights along the way. Coach Jones also thinks it's good for the parents to come along so they can see that there are plenty of excellent athletes around and the process of earning a college scholarship can be extremely competitive.
Tony Jackson already has an offer from Bowling Green, and he was getting plenty of attention from the Bearcat coaching staff on Monday. We asked Coach Jones about his linebacker. "He 's a transfer linebacker from Central Crossing High School. He went to the same middle school as most of our players, and he wanted to play with his old buddies for his senior year. He's been a tremendous asset since he's arrived. His leadership skills are unquestioned. He's gained about 15-18 pounds since he's arrived. He's really bought into our weight program. He runs well and is 6' 1" and 230 or 235 pounds. He can play that 'mike' or 'sam' spot. There are some schools looking at him as a running back. He's got the skill sets to be a good Division I football player."
Since Coach Jones coached at Princeton in the late 90's, we asked him about the changes at UC. "We coached in the first Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown in 1998. It (Nippert) had the old turf, and that stuff was blistering hot. It's great that they've decided to upgrade to the synthetics for the kids' health and the ability to soak up rain. It's a very playable surface now. I think they hired a first-class human being in Mark Dantonio because Rick Minter was the coach back then. Coach Dantonio's staff is first class. I've known Tim Hinton for a long time and coached with Harlan Barnett. There are great people here coaching these kids, and I would feel comfortable sending my kids down here. I tend to evaluate schools that way. Is it the kind of environment where my kids will thrive and be supported academically as well as athletically."
Bearcat Insider will check back with Coach Jones in a couple weeks to see if any of his players performed well enough to get a scholarship offer from Cincinnati.