LOI Day a Long Time Coming for Andrew Jones

For most high school seniors, it's easy to say that National Signing Day has been a on long time in the works. But it's especially true for Smithsville (Mo.) senior and Missouri commit Andrew Jones.

"It's been about a year since I committed. If I could have signed back then, I would've," said Jones, who will make his future plans official Wednesday in a ceremony at his school.

"A lot of people told me, ‘You need to go to Florida or Oklahoma or Clemson.' I told them that MU fits what I'm doing. After this season, they were all telling me I was right from the start," he said. "Other coaches told me, you need to go somewhere where you can play in the BCS. You'll never play for a conference title there."

Still, Jones, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound prospect rated the No. 9 tight end in the country, never once considered changing his commitment. Not only that, but he claimed a role as de facto recruiting coordinator, working on countless other recruits on Mizzou's behalf. He had a direct role in the commitments of Blaine Gabbert, Aldon Smith and Dan Hoch, and helped to woo many others who eventually pledged Mizzou.

"I just told the coaches I'd do whatever it takes to help because I'm a pretty personable guy and the kids talk to me. I have been talking to the 2009 kids already, although I won't have time to do that next year because I'll be in school and playing football," he said.

Jones is averaging 25 points and 12 rebounds on the basketball court as a senior and is aiming for his fourth consecutive year with all-state honors. He was offered a basketball scholarship by Missouri State and recruited by Nevada and Creighton. He's also honing in on the school career scoring record at Smithville, which has never produced a Division I athlete prior to him.

"Everybody there is just happy for me because I get to go to college and get an education for free. A lot of people can't afford to go to college," he said.

He expects to get onto the field as a true freshman, regardless of what role he's in.

"I think I can make an impact on special teams and some on offense," he said. "They told me that the thing I need to work on is getting off of jams without trying to beat the guy up, not trying to muscle him."

He's certainly added plenty of muscle, however, to this year's class.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For a more in-depth look at Andrew Jones and the unusual role he played in helping Mizzou build its recruiting class, see next month's Inside Mizzou Magazine.

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