RECRUITING: Speed Name Of Game For A.J. Jones

Speed and quickness are the reasons that A.J. Jones may be the most highly recruited linebacker in the state of Florida this year. The Tampa Middleton star showed up big at Saturday's All-American Combine at the University of South Florida. Jones had the kind of day that made everyone from fellow high school players to college scouts take notice.

Jones, who is high on the recruiting priorities for the Florida Gators, turned in a 4.61 40-yard dash, the fourth fastest time of the day. His 3.99 shuttle is listed among the five fastest of all the Scout combines. Speed and quickness are his game and he showed that. What he didn't get a chance to show was how he just loves to hit.

"I like defense … I'd rather hit than be hit," he said. "I have to say my speed helps me out the most, because I am not the biggest man in the world."

One thing he will have to work on is maintaining his weight and even building on it. He showed up Saturday at 180 pounds, but a week earlier he was weighed at 190. This could be attributed to all of the hard work his team is putting in this spring.

"It (spring) is going good … our team looks exciting," he said about Middleton. "Yeah, they (the coaches) are being real rough. We are trying to get to the next level. We got to the regional finals last year. We want to make it to the state finals this year."

He is one guy that appreciates what the coaches do for him and his team. They don't look out just for the success of the Middleton football team.

"Our coaching staff is the best out there," he said. "They take time to work with us. If it weren't for them we wouldn't be recruited. They go out and get the recruiters for us, so they help us out a lot."

The recruiters are lining up to see Jones. The list of coaches that want to sign him is long. He gets letters of interest from just about every Division I school in the nation. His list of offers grows on an almost daily basis. He likes the recruiting process so far.

"It is going good," he said. "I just have to hang in there and get ready for it. USC is the farthest (that has offered) and they offered me the other day. I have offers from all of the state schools."

He isn't ready to name a favorite but has a small, but very respectable list that he puts at the top.

"I would say USC, Florida, Alabama, and LSU, but everybody is about even," he said of his top schools. "They are all recruiting me at OLB or strong safety. I can play both, and wherever I can help them out, that is where I will go."

One thing about Jones is that he is a superb athlete. While there may be questions about where he will play at the next level, there is no question that he will have a chance to prove himself at one of the nation's top schools.

"They say once I get up there (to college), they think I can do a little bit of everything," he said. "I played offense and defense this (past) year. I play running back and receiver on offense. In the regional final I had 120 yards rushing last year."

His academics seem to be in order and he has his first scheduled SAT exam on June 4. A.J. Jones looks to be a player that will have all the choices he needs this recruiting season. The Florida Gators are hoping they're number one once he makes that final choice.

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