Jones emerges for class of 2014

Neville's Laurence Jones looked the part in a win over Karr in the Superdome.

Among five high school state championships in the Superdome each December, at least one prospect always makes the transition from relative obscurity to the spotlight.

Last weekend, that player was Neville sophomore cornerback Laurence Jones.

The Tigers won a 27-6 bout with Edna Karr to earn the Class 4A state crown, and Jones, unfazed by the spotlight despite his age, was a crucial piece to the puzzle.

"He was all over the place for us," Neville coach Mickey McCarty said.

After 2013 tight end Standish Dobard got into the end zone to put Karr up 6-0 in the first quarter, Jones returned a kick to set the Tigers up with good field position, which turned into points three plays later.

On Karr's next trip to the red zone, Jones forced a fumble.

Later, he blocked a field goal and grabbed an interception that led to points.

"They call me the little Tyrann Mathieu," Jones said. "I just love to get after it. I watch Tyrann Mathieu, and I love how he plays. He plays fast and goes hard."

The reality is at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Jones is a significantly bigger version of the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Honey Badger.

But in Mathieu-style, Jones, in a Class 4A title game that featured SEC-caliber talent on both sides of the ball, shined arguably the brightest.

"Through our feeder program, Laurence was a tailback, and a good-looking young man," McCarty said. "When he walks through the door he is one that looks like a prospect."

Why switch to cornerback?

"I got that idea last year around the fourth game," Jones said. "I told Coach I wanted to play defense to help out, but I wanted to cover people. The first play I got in on defense, I grabbed an interception.

"The coaches have kept me there since."

In a 2014 class that includes the likes of Karr defensive lineman Gerald Willis and St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette, Jones has also emerged as a prospect, thanks to a playoff resume that includes holding LSU wide receiver commit Travin Dural to 30 yards.

"He has good ball skills and he has instincts," McCarty said. "Aside from the athleticism and strength, he has those things. He will continue to develop and mature as a ball player."

Jones was the most pleased with his performance against Dural.

"He was definitely the best receiver I played against all year," Jones said. "He gave me a good run. He has size and could really move his hips, and he's got some good hands."

Added McCarty: "Dural is a tremendous receiver, and I thought Jones matched up with him pretty well."

After a 2011 season when all of his reps came on the defensive side of the ball, Jones is expected to try his hand at both cornerback and running back as a junior.

"He's going to be one of those versatile players for us," McCarty said. "To be able to go out and cover some pretty good guys, that is pretty phenomenal.

"We will move him around. He will find himself in the backfield more next year. We have to find a way for him to make plays for us."

Though it's early in the process, it's not a surprise that two SEC teams have caught Jones' attention.

"I mainly want to hear from LSU and Alabama," Jones said. "I also want to get offered by Ohio State. They are a team I've always liked."

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