Narrowing it down

It appears that new LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pellini likes the smaller and faster linebackers over the bigger and more physical type.

The Tigers have commitments from three players who fit that mold and there is at least one more who is high on their list in Tampa (Fla.) Middleton star linebacker A.J. Jones (6-2, 190, 4.6).

Jones, who is rated No. 19 among Scout.com's top linebackers, had an unbelievable junior campaign where he registered 170 tackles, 16 sacks, forced six fumbles and scored two defensive touchdowns. He is such a gifted athlete that he also saw plenty of time on offense where he rushed for over 450 yards, logged 10 catches and scored six more times.

His defensive performance earned him second team all-state and defensive player of the year in his county, which is pretty remarkable considering the talent that resides in the Sunshine State.

Initially, college coaches were unsure if he was a linebacker at the next level or a strong safety. Now, though, everyone seems to be in agreement.

"Everybody says linebacker now," Jones told Tiger Rag.

Everybody would include Pellini and LSU defensive backs coach Doug Mallory. The two have been recruiting Jones since early in March and they have made it perfectly clear that they want the standout linebacker.

"Coach Mallory actually sent me a text message about thirty minutes ago," Jones told us around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday night. "He was just saying they need linebackers and they can really use me."

Along with the offer from the Tigers, Jones has scholarship offers from the who's who of college football. He said he feels grateful to have earned the 20-plus offers he has but he also realizes it is time to start narrowing things down.

"I've narrowed it down a little," he said. "I like LSU, Florida, USC, Alabama, Tennessee and Ohio State. The only one I know I'm visiting for sure is USC. But if I had to pick the other four today I would probably go to LSU, Alabama and Florida. I don't know about the other one."

Jones got his first taste of LSU football during the 2004 season when the Tigers traveled to Florida and he liked what he saw.

"I went to the Florida/LSU game last year and they had a lot of fan support on the road," he said. "That was the first thing I noticed. I also liked the way their defense was aggressive and all over the place."

LSU fans can also credit one of Jones' cousins for getting the Tigers on his radar.

"My cousin lived in Baton Rouge and he always talked about LSU," said Jones. "He would talk about how good the football team was and then people around here also talk a lot about LSU football. He talked about how the people are real friendly and down to earth."

Being down to earth is something that people in South Louisiana are known for. In only a short time, the LSU coaching staff has taken on that same personality.

"When the coaches came down here and talked to me they were normal and down to earth," Jones said. "It wasn't like they were on a mission. They shot straight from the hip. Most recruiters don't have an interest in you but they want you for football.

The LSU coaches were real genuine. They talked about academics and were kind of like, hey, we want you but if it doesn't work then it doesn't work."

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