Early Leaders

Chris Jones is talented enough to play Division I football. A 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end, the Jacksonville, Fla. standout is now scanning the map for where he wants to end up. In a preliminary top five, LSU is high on the list.

You hear about an up-and-coming talent out of Florida and the reaction is often the same. Said prospect must be headed to join the Gators, or possibly the rising Hurricanes program. Add in Florida State, and you understand why so many high school seniors from the Sunshine State don’t want to stray too far from home.

William Raines High junior defensive end Chris Jones is already getting tons of mail from college coaches, which means that his recruitment is nearing the corner where the road speeds up to breakneck pace.

“Stuff is coming in every single day, and most of the time the same coaches will send me multiple letters in a week,” Jones said. “It can get crazy, so I went ahead and picked five teams that I want to focus on.

LSU, Miami, Boise State, Georgia and Florida is what I am thinking right now. Clemson, Florida State, Iowa State, Syracuse and Notre Dame are some of the other schools that are in the mix, too. It is still early, but that is where I am at.”

After camping at Miami during his 10th grade season, Jones met with defensive line coach Clint Hurtt and struck up a friendship that has lasted through his junior season. With fellow Raines High defensive tackle Louis Nix already a soft verbal to the Canes, many might consider Randy Shannon’s club the early leader.

But, Jones maintains that his process is as open as it could be – and he presents an interesting note as to why he might not stay in Florida for college.

“I am not even from Jacksonville,” he said. “I was born in Buffalo, N.Y. and was raised in Harlem. My family just moved down here when I was in ninth grade; I have not even been in Florida for more than three years. It is a great place, but I have no problem moving away to get an education and play football.”

Good news for LSU, a team that hopes to make a splash in a race that includes a few heavy hitters from Jones’ home state.

“LSU came into the picture because I have been liking the program since as long as I can remember,” he said. “Chad Jones is a crazy, good athlete. I also remember watching back before high school when guys like [Alley] Broussard and [Justin] Addai ran the football.

“LSU is a school that puts defensive linemen into the league, and that is big. I got the speed coming off the edge to make a great player, and LSU seems like a place I could go and develop into that force I want to be.”

With his first ACT test date set for Dec. 12, Jones is keeping academics before football.

“I am on my books every night, and I have worked hard enough to keep A’s and B’s,” he said. “To get accepted into a D-I college and get a great education, that is something I can’t pass up because I slacked off along the way.”

Jones holds written scholarship offers from East Carolina and Iowa State.

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