Illinois RB E.J. Jones Commits to Gophers

E.J. Jones, a 6-foot, 190-pound running back/defensive back from Edwardsville (IL) High, has committed to Minnesota, according to sources close to his recruitment. Jones was the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Offensive Player of the Year and will visit the Minnesota campus this weekend. GoldenSports.Net caught Jones on the basketball court last month at the St. Louis Shootout as he scored 10 points to lead the Tigers to a 52-44 win over Belleville East at the Savvis Center.

E.J. Jones was named the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Offensive Player of the Year as he set single-season records with 27 total touchdowns, 162 points and 247 rushes. His 2,554 total yards rank second, and his 1,589 rushing yards rank third.

Jones committed to Minnesota on Thursday, picking the Golden Gophers over Air Force and Northwestern.

"I always wanted to play in the Big Ten Conference," Jones told the St. Louis Dispatch. "That's one of the elite conferences you can play in. Their coaches had a good relationship with my coaches. My family thought it was a good deal to play at Minnesota because they play all over and my family will get a chance to see me play."

Jones rushed for 264 yards in a midseason win over East St. Louis, the fourth-best game in school history, and his 37 carries ranked second.

Jones caught 31 passes for 477 yards and two touchdowns. He also finished with 14 punt returns for 363 yards and two touchdowns and had eight kickoffs for 125 yards.

Jones also started at defensive back and tied the school record with seven interceptions.

Jones was named Illinois Coaches Association and the Chicago Tribune All-State at running back. He was named Champaign News-Gazette All-State as a defensive back and Chicago Sun-Times All-State as a kick returner.

Jones transferred to Edwardsville this season from Springfield (OH) North, where he was an all-conference quarterback. He moved after his father became an assistant coach at Washington University in St. Louis. Edmund Jones had previously coached defensive backs at Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois and San Jose State and was the head coach at East St. Louis High in 1995. He had played defensive back at Central State in Ohio.

Jones moved to running back at Edwardsville and despite some early struggles as he adjusted to the position change, he led the Tigers to an 8-5 mark this season, an improvement from a 4-5 record the previous season.

Jones was also recruited by Illinois, Kansas, Bowling Green, Ohio University and Northern Illinois. He had planned a trip to Illinois in December, but cancelled the trip to take the ACT.

Jones scored 13 points Friday night on the hardwood to pace the Tigers to a 66-57 victory over Belleville East at home. The win moved Edwardsville to a 17-0 start. Jones is averaging 9.7 points per game this season.

Edwardsville is one of the top basketball teams in southern Illinois as they also feature St. Louis signee Dustin Maguire (14.8 points per game) and Illinois-Chicago signee Spencer Stewart, who is averaging 12.1 points.

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