More on Oliver Jones

NINETY SIX, S.C. - CUTigers talks with Ninety Six head coach Chris Liner about rising senior offensive tackle Oliver Jones.

Liner, who is entering his fourth year as head coach of the Wildcats, served as an assistant and offensive coordinator at nearby Greenwood High School previously.

The following is an edited transcript of Monday afternoon's interview with CUTigers.com.

Is the main message college coaches are passing along to you, in regards to Jones' injury, is his work ethic?
Liner: I think character has kind of been put to the forefront of college recruiting, in my opinion, in the experience I've had with it. I think it should be that way. If you have a chance to go out and pick 20 kids to go out and represent your school and represent your alumni, your faculty, student body, then you want to pick 25 of the highest character kids that you can. You don't lose those guys to attrition. They don't get arrested. You don't have to worry about what they're going to do at the bowl game. You don't have to worry about those type things.

Not just Oliver's size and his work ethic, he's got all those intangibles. You meet the kid. The first time you talk to him you'll see. He's always got a big smile on his face. He's got great manners, was raised the right way by his parents. They instilled discipline in him. We got him like that. We were fortunate. We just had to backup what he was taught at home and reinforce it. Having a kid like that is a coach's dream…he's got that it factor. You hear that cliché so much, but you want him to be a part of your team.

Are there times when you want to keep him from trying to do too much in his recovery from knee surgery?
Liner: Absolutely. We've talked about that. I've said, ‘Son, why would you do anything stupid, some type of agility drill where you have to cut on that knee? Really, what we're doing now, although it's important, it's not detrimental to our future or yours.' He's smart about that. He understands as frustrating as it is to sit there and watch an entire season, there are bigger things in the very close future. Just have to make sure he stays focused on that. It's a good and a bad thing. You like that attitude of ‘Coach I'm ready to get out there. I'm sick of watching. I want to be a part and do everything y'all are doing.' That's difficult for me to keep him out of contact right now, because I feel for him. I want him to be able to do that. It's hard when you've got a 6-foot-6, 300-pound lineman standing on your sideline when you're in a playoff game against Lamar, or whoever you're playing. Those kind of guys, especially at our level—or any level—make a difference.

What coaches, schools have been by?
Liner: Wow. All of them, you name them. Notre Dame will be here [Tuesday] at 9. Auburn, Alabama, North Carolina, North Carolina State, East Carolina, just about every school in the southeast, and even some schools that typically aren't going to travel to Ninety Six, South Carolina. He's getting a ton of stuff from Nebraska and Oregon. It'll be interesting to see. Statistics show that small town Carolina generally stays in the area, as far as recruiting.

Georgia's been here a good bit. They're very high on him. It's been fun. We did kind of the gamut this spring. We saw about all of them at some point and time. Let him see what they have to offer, what the campus looks like. From an academic standpoint, where's the learning center… we talked a lot about making the decision and making it early so that he could have fun being a Ninety Six Wildcat during his senior year. I talked to his parents last Tuesday. I think they're kind of encouraging that, too. August, early September at the latest—the best fit and where's going to make you happy. Obviously, I'm a Clemson grad. Whatever makes him happy.


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