RECRUITING: AJ Jones Has Great Camp At UF

Although he is a bit undersized as a linebacker, there is no question that AJ Jones of Tampa (FL) Middleton has the athletic ability to play the position. He showed off his skills for the Florida coaches last week at the Urban Meyer Football Camp, helping to take his team to the finals in the passing games.

Even though he is only 6-1, 190, A.J. Jones is being recruited to Florida as a linebacker. The smooth running, hard hitting star was part of a mix-matched team, because his Middleton only brought Jones and quarterback Dominic Grooms to camp. His team of players from all over Florida made it to the finals before losing to the team from Pompano Beach (FL) Ely.

"It (the camp) was real nice," he said. "It was real good, because we had a lot of people from across the state and meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends. The coaches are real straight forward people … they tell you the truth. They said I played well and we made it to the final game. It was me and my quarterback Dominic Grooms (from Middleton), Darin Baldwin from Miami (FL) South Dade was on there … he was a baller. We had a lot of people."

Jones loved the competitiveness of playing the best teams in the camp One had to wonder what kind of system they ran? "We ran everything coach," he said.

For Jones it was also an opportunity for an unofficial visit the campus, meet the coaching staff and check out the facilities at the University of Florida as well as get a feel for the Gainesville community. Jones left Gainesville quite impressed with everything.

"I got to talk to Coach (Stan) Drayton, Coach (Charlie) Strong and Coach Urban Meyer some," he said, "They just told me they were glad I came up (to camp) because it gave me a chance to learn more things about coming here. I met with Brandon Siler and Brian Crum. If we were with our coaches we could go to the weight room and I saw Chris Leak and Andre Caldwell and all of them. They are great players. Siler and Crum are huge."

Florida certainly did nothing on his three days to turn him away from the Gators and the coaching staff spent its time eyeballing him during the camp. While he really likes Florida, he isn't near a decision any time soon.

"I will probably make my decision down to the last minute and take all my trips," he said. "I don't have any favorites really, but the schools I like right now are Florida, LSU, USC, Auburn, South Carolina, and Alabama, and Illinois.

"USC, they are the national champs. Pete Carol is straight forward man. He wants to do what everyone else wants to do, win. He carries his program good.

"LSU, they have been on me from the start. They graduate a lot of players. They say I can come in and make an impact on their team and help them out a lot. Their coach is cool too.

"South Carolina, they recruited me kind of last year with OJ. I talk with Coach Reaves sometimes and he comes at you straight and correct.

"Auburn, they can put you at the next level and I love their aggressive defense.

"Alabama was one of the first ones that started recruiting me.

"Illinois and Coach Zook were the first one to offer me a scholarship. He saw me when he was at Florida, so he offered me early."

There are a few things he knows he wants to see in the school of his choice. The deciding factors are already weighing heavily on his mind. Jones however, is not afraid to hit the road for his college choice.

"I will have to leave some day you know," he said, "I might as well go early, because if you are going to go to the NFL, you are going to be traveling all the time anyways. Academics is one of the first things I am looking at. The atmosphere … it has to be good. I want a good atmosphere for my next four years of my life. I am really strong into Jesus Christ, so probably a place with a good church. I want good coaches. I want to go to a place that will produce me and make me get better and get to the next level.

REDMAN REACTION: A.J. Jones may be the best linebacker in the state of Florida this year. He will never be "huge" like Brandon Siler and Brian Crum, but he will be a playmaking superstar at the next level. He's about the same size Derrick Brooks was when he began his senior year in high school. The Gators, still looking for linebacker depth, could use an A.J. Jones.

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