RECRUITING: A.J. Jones - Gator roots run deep

When the Gators play host to the Florida State Seminoles next weekend, there will be one fan in the stands taking it all in with a strong sense of Orange and Blue pride. Tampa Middleton linebacker A.J. Jones hopes to attend his first Florida game of the season. "The Swamp" experience runs deep, relatively speaking, for A.J.

(A.J. Jones profile)

"I'm going to attend the Florida-Florida State game," he said. "I want to take my Granddad, who is a huge Gator fan. He's never been to a game at the stadium though. He'll be real excited."

"All of my family is from Gainesville," says Jones laughingly. "All of them. I've got cousins, uncles, my Auntie. One of my cousins' played basketball for GHS and now attends Florida. He told me that he wants to walk-on with their team. They haven't pressured me to go to Florida, but…(laughing). Really, they told me to do what's best for me."

Jones said that he has been working out lifting weights since Middleton dropped their first round playoff contest 44-7 to defending state champion (Tampa) Armwood last Friday night. Besides working out, he will play baseball for the Tigers and get a job..

"I had a decent year," Jones said. "I finished with 114 tackles, six sacks, and seven or eight forced fumbles. My coach said that's a real good year considering everybody except two teams ran away from me. Even Armwood ran away from me. My cousin is Eric Smith, their running back. I wanted to bust him up so bad. I really only got him on one play. I was running parallel and got the angle on him and pile drove him into the bench."

The speedy linebacker will also attempt to tackle the recruiting issues which are ahead of him. Jones said that he is currently looking at Florida, Alabama, LSU, USC, Tennessee, and Ohio State. One of the things that he is focusing on is the depth chart. He wants to see for himself about potential opportunities and if coaches are shooting straight with him.

USC- "It was nice. I went to the Stanford game. It was the first college football game that I'd been able to attend this season. I had never seen mountains, so that was really cool. Looking down from the plane, I saw the snow on the tops of the mountains. That was new for me. It was neat to see how they do things at SC. Before pre-game teams usually are quiet. Not these guys. About four or five hours before the game, they were throwing chairs around and getting all cranked up. The coaches were throwing them too. It was something. They got focused just before the game though. Everything they do is high caliber."

Alabama- "Wild. I went to the LSU game. That is the only SEC game that I'd attended this year. Walking out of the tunnel, they had fans yelling- "We want A.J., We want A.J." They were yelling the same type stuff at (Tim) Tebow. It was nice. I like the Alabama coaches. It was the second time that I'd been around them. I went to a camp up there. I like their good defense. They play a hard nosed defensive style."

LSU- "When I went to Alabama, I wanted to see a good game. See how they attack. I saw a good game. They played hard. I know them (coaches) a little better because they came to the school last spring to see me."

Florida- "I talked to Coach Strong and Coach Drayton for awhile now. I'm comfortable with them. Coach Meyer has come to Tampa to see me and (Jarred) Fayson. He still text messages me. It's stuff like, "Keep your head on straight" "You need to be a Gator. When I go up there next weekend, it will be on an unofficial."

Ohio State- "Coach Beck has been talking to me for a long time. He tells me a lot of stuff about their program and how things are run up there."

Tennessee- "They are a hard nosed defense. I like that. They're really a typical SEC team. I'm learning a lot more about them from Coach Brooks."

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