Michigan had long been an afterthought in in the recruitment of Minneapolis (MN) Washburn standout Jeffrey Jones. The four-star tailback had narrowed his focus to a handful of finalists when contact from the Wolverines’ from out of the blue altered his outlook.
Jones displayed nice burst despite limited opportunities in the contest, rushing six times for 37 yards. He proved against the best players in the country that the 2460 all-purpose yards and 44 touchdowns he amassed during the season weren’t flukes.
“I thought I matched up great,” Jones said confidently. “At first I wasn’t even invited, so for me to go down there and (perform well) was good for me.”
The performance certainly boosted his stock in Michigan’s eyes. On the flipside, the Wolverines saw their profile raised with Jones when they hired Doug Nussmeier to run their offense.
“They’re starting something new over there,” said Jones. “They let go of their (offensive coordinator) and got Bama’s. They’re trying to do new things over there with a new staff, and he’s looking at new players. So I look at them just like just like the other schools that offered me.”
“Obviously Bama scores points… so if you get a guy from that side of the ball from there, that’s obviously a great asset.”
It’s one that may prove especially valuable as Michigan looks to distinguish itself from Jones’ other finalists. While six have officially made the cut, it appears to be primarily a four team race.
“I’m thinking about Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Tennessee, and Iowa State,” reported Jones.
“From my knowledge, Florida doesn’t have a running back in my class. Florida would be a good opportunity because I would have a chance to play right away. We were down there for a week (for the Under Armour game), so I got a nice little feel for how it would be if I decided to leave. To me it’s nothing major as long as I’m helping myself for my future. (The major question mark is) just the coaching staff. Are they going to be they my entire four years if I do decide to go there?”
“Minnesota… that’s home. They know how to win games. Their staff has won games since it got there. Coach (Jerry) Kill always wins games with the teams that he has and I just feel like they’re on the rise right now.”
“The (Iowa State) Cyclones were young this year so next year I feel like they can do big things if they’ve got an explosive back that can be in there every down instead of giving away tendencies switching guys in and out. They think I can be that guy.”
“Michigan’s) running back coach, we’ve been talking off and on. He has been messaging me on Facebook and calling. (Chris) Singletary seems like a real genuine guy. We’ve been talking back and forth also. I talked to Jabrill Peppers. We were teammates at the Under Armour game. He said they need a back and that I might as well come play with him for four years.”
Those are the four programs that make up Jones’ official visit schedule. Trips to Minnesota and Iowa State have already been taken, while Florida (January 24th) and Michigan (January 31st) are slated to round out his itinerary. At one point Michigan State appeared to be a likely stop, but a trip to East Lansing no longer looks to be in the cards.
“Michigan State is obviously a great program after what they did this year beating Ohio State. They started recruiting me early. I never even got time to get a visit planned with Michigan State.”
Though disappointed by development, Jones isn’t dwelling on it. He doesn’t have time too. He has to focus on determining which decision factors will separate the victor from all the schools that are on his visit schedule.
“I really can’t tell you (what my decision will be based on) until I take my last two officials and see what Florida and University of Michigan have to offer.”
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