Michigan made an outstanding first impression of Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge linebacker Jonathan Jones when he visited last summer. The Wolverines made just as big a mark when he traveled back this weekend for his official visit.
"The visit was real great,” Jones said while visiting family in Detroit Sunday. “I'm happy to be back. I was happy to meet more players, tour the city, (and) meet the newest recruits, so it was great."
Campus was certainly busier this time around and he also had a chance to observed football practice, but those weren’t the only things he found different about his latest Michigan experience.
"I want to go into business, so we sat down and talked to administrators and professors at the business school,” said Jones. “They explained basically how the process goes… how to get into school and how everything it is set up when I get there with classes and stuff like that. I got a better understanding of that, so that was a success."
Jones was accompanied on the trip by his mother and she came away equally impressed.
“She said my decision just probably got a bit harder,” said Jones. “It's a great school and she said there are great people. If I went there she would feel very comfortable.”
Part of Jones’ comfort will be based on his connection with his position coach. He’s not sure who that would be at Michigan since Jim Harbaugh is still searching for a defensive coordinator/linebacker coach to replace D.J. Durkin. Even so, that doesn’t appear to be a major concern for Jones.
"I know they're in the process of looking and I'm pretty sure it's going to be a great coach,” he said. “They're looking for someone that's going to fit their program, but also who has been productive and (has a reputation) for being dominant on the defensive side of the ball and also good with young men.”
Jones believes Michigan’s linebacker coach for the bowl game, Chris Partridge, definitely has the ability to connect with players. He has certainly forged a bond with Jones over the past year.
“It was great hanging with him,” the three-star linebacker said. “He's a great guy and I wouldn't have a problem with him being my linebacker coach. I watched a little bit of practice and watched him get after it. He was right there and knew what he was talking about. Running the drills and he was intense. And also Coach (Mattison) the d-line coach… right now he is the interim (defensive coordinator) and I really liked him looks like he had a lot of input and was right there. He was intense and coaching hard too."
The payers did their collective part in making a positive impression. Led by host Tyree Kinnel, a group of players that included Jabrill Peppers gave him a favorable glimpse of what life as a Wolverine would be like. The numerous verbal commitments in town also lent a helping hand by letting the talented youngster know how much they want him to be a part of the class.
“They were after me they were asking me 'what are you thinking,' said Jones. “But everybody was real cool about it. Nobody was shoving it down your throat and stuff. They were just telling you why they committed and what the possibilities it could do and they really believe... take the prize a notch up also. They would love to have me. They’re real cool dudes. All (of them are) ballers."
That begs an obvious question. Did he have the urge to commit?
“Most definitely, he replied. “I love Michigan, I love the coaching staff, and it'd be a great fit. I’ve just got to pray on it more and see what everyone has to offer and talk to my family more about it."
The favorites to land him have long been thought to be Michigan and Notre Dame, A sentiment which he echoed in a recent interview, but coming off of his trip to Ann Arbor he made it a point to highlight Duke's candidacy also.
Said Jones, "my next scheduled visit is January 21st and that would be my fourth one. I will try to make another one to somewhere, I'm not sure where yet. But I’ve got Duke January 21st. Until then I'm training. I thank God I got accepted to the US National Team. I'm trying to train hard for that and will go and show out. So I’m focused on my training, keeping my body right and keep praying."
Then on the first Wednesday in February Jones he will announce his decision. He reiterated his plan to wait until then even he makes his mind up well in advance of February 3rd.
“If I do end up committing, honestly it would be a silent commit. I would let everybody know on signing day just because it's something I want to give back to my school. They really deserve it. They really raised me up and they helped me out, so I’m going to let them know first."