Jones Back in Champaign

Chicago (IL) Phillips product Amani Jones sees Champaign for the second time in a month, this time with a couple of his teammates.

2016 linebacker Amani Jones has already been to Illinois a couple of times in the last three months, including his first trip, a state final loss to Rochester. However, that experience hasn't soured his perception of Champaign at all.

Jones, who visited Illinois in early February, was back in town again on Saturday and had a great time on campus yet again.

"It was great," Jones said. "This was my second time visiting the Illini. It was really cool"

The familiarity with Illinois is growing for Jones. Coming back to the U of I gave him a more in-depth look at the home-state school.

"I think when you get to see things a second time, they sink in more," he said. "We also played the state championship game there, so Champaign is starting to feel very familiar."

The staff's diligence in recruiting him and building a relationship with him and his teammates has made a strong early impression with the defender.

"You can tell Illinois' staff puts in a lot of time and effort into the visit days," Jones said. "That doesn't go unnoticed."

Being back in Champaign did take Jones back to the memories of playing for a state title there. If anything, it motivated he and his teammates to get back there next year.

"It brought back a lot of memories," Jones said. "In due time I think we will win it all. That's the goal for this year. This time we want to finish the job."

Jones already came into the weekend with an offer from the Illini, and over the weekend, fellow Phillips defender Amir Watts picked up an offer from Illinois as well. Talent like that gives Jones optimism for their identity on defense.

"The goal is of course always to score a lot and give up as few points as possible," he said. "We should be strong on defense for sure. You can't win a game without the offense, but we have some talent on D."

Off the field, Jones says his demeanor is relaxed and fun, but when he straps on the pads, it's a whole different ballgame.

"When it comes to football and anything that happens before the game, I let it all out on the field," Jones said.

"During the game, I try to punish the opponent."

It could very well be that Jones and his Phillips teammates will at least play one more game in Memorial Stadium in their football careers, but now with three members of that state runner-up team with offers, it's certainly possible that they may play many more in Champaign together, too.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories