RECRUITING: A.J. Jones Feels A Lot Of Love

Attention is no stranger to A.J. Jones. The (6-1 196) weakside linebacker from Tampa Middleton continues to field a plethora of calls from coaches, members of the media, and recruiting services. Those additional rings are courtesy of some of the players that he has befriended during the recruiting process.

(A.J. Jones profile)

"It's an honor," said Jones, rated the number 14 ranked linebacker in the nation by "I feel blessed to have this kind of attention. Most players dream about this kind of attention. I'm really blessed, and I just think that God has blessed me and my life, a lot."

Next Monday, Jones will board a plane bound for California, where he'll suit up for the good guys in the CaliFlorida All-Star game. He laughed when I mentioned that the phone in his hotel room might be ringing.

"All of the players from Florida meet in Orlando and we leave to go out there the 26th," Jones said. "We'll practice at Cal-State. We'll just practice one time a day, but the sessions will be long. Jarred (Fayson) and I might be rooming together out there (in California). I'm not sure yet. We talk three or four times a week now, working out and stuff. (Tim) Tebow called me after he announced on ESPN. I didn't get to talk to him that night, but I talked to him the next day. I told him that we'll talk again soon. He had called me before he announced too, so we've known each other."

Fayson, the Hillsborough High star who committed to Florida after their disposal of arch-rival Florida State, is certainly endearing himself to Gators fans with his recruiting efforts.

"Me, Daron (Rose), and Jarred (Fayson) did an interview today, because we made the "Best of the South" team." Jones said. He continued by laughingly stating, "Jarred is recruiting me (to Florida). When we were on TV he said, 'Yeah, I'm trying to get A.J. over here to stop playing and come on.' I just said- Agh. I'm going to do the best thing and make sure that the school I'm going to is best for me. Anyway, they said that we were the first three to ever make the team from one city."

Recruits who have committed from to other teams haven't contacted Jones as of yet. However, he has heard from a current player on the Alabama roster.

"I didn't know too many Alabama recruits that committed, but, (Alabama SAM linebacker) Terrence Jones texted (messaged) me a few minutes ago," he said. "He (Jones) said that he'd like to give me a call and holler at me."

Jones recorded 114 tackles, six sacks, and at least seven forced fumbles for the Tigers this season. His outstanding speed, lateral movement, and assertive play have earned him accolades from opposing players and coaches the past two years. College coaches quickly began inquiring about Jones.

He has narrowed his field and is quick to point out that Gainesville could well be his next destination. His grandfather and several extended family members are residents of the city. As expected, they too are quite fond of the Orange and Blue.

The Florida coach has to be thrilled to have those family members in the Gators corner. But, he is most eager to secure Jones verbal commitment. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen soon.

"Coach (Urban) Meyer called me after Riley Cooper committed (to Florida)," Jones recalled. "He said, "All I'm waiting for is the best linebacker from Tampa, Florida. I told him basically that if I don't see anything that really blows my mind, that's probably where I'm going to. They're (Florida) really up there. Like I say, unless something really shocks me to lead me away from there, that's probably where I'm headed. That's where I'm leaning to right now."

Jones is scheduled to visit Ohio State on January 6th, Florida on January 20th, and LSU on January 27th. He said that he will not commit until he takes all of his visits.

We told you that Jones father, A.J. Jones Jr., had been hospitalized a few weeks ago. The elder Jones told me that he was released after a 17 day hospital stay, last Saturday. To say that he was ready to get back home would be a major understatement. He acknowledged that he is feeling better today. He said that he appreciated the many prayers, stating that they went up to heaven and made their way back down.

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