One of Nebraska's best looking at football future

This is a story you've heard before, inside the borders of Nebraska. Football player is discovered as good, football player becomes touted recruit, football player is quickly becoming household name in the Husker state and of course, football player is told by everyone and their dog how they can't wait to see them in red. Well, that might be the case with perhaps Nebraska's best prep-player this year, but Omaha Central's D.J. Jones plans on making sure that his choice is just that, his.

Go down the list of names of touted Nebraska prep-football players over the years and you can literally write their recruiting story yourself. First, they have to be recognized as a player worthy of playing for the University of Nebraska. After that, though, when it comes to the in-state pressure from fellow fans, friends and even relatives, as the kids like to say "it's on".

Titus Adams went through it, Cortney Grixby went through it and basically every single player that Nebraska truly wanted was inundated with the assumptions, almost demands that this prep-star would be making the small geographic move to the only place for them.

As Omaha Central lineman D.J. Jones has felt his popularity increasing, he's sensed the same thing that all those mentioned above and more went through. After that written offer, however, what he sensed became a very clear reality. "Oh yeah, I hear about it every single day," D.J. said. "It's not if I am going, but when and how everyone can't wait to see me playing for Nebraska."

Going back to one of the more recent stories regaling the persistence of the local fan base, I recall very well the trials and tribulations of being a standout football player in Nebraska and actually wanting to look around, as was the case with current Husker, Titus Adams. Throughout the entire recruiting process, Adams actually bristled at the pressure, citing the fact that if he did indeed go to Nebraska, everyone will assume it was because of the pressure to go there rather than it simply being his choice.

That's the issue here and it is the exact same for Jones, because you have one of the up and coming names in high school football, he's holding a written offer from Nebraska, but all Jones wants to do right now is think about other avenues, not because he wants to get out of the state, but because he's looking to make his own choice and not one that everyone is very eager to make for him. "There's no reason why I shouldn't look around to see what's best for me," Jones said. "I'm the one that has to take the classes, do the work and live wherever that is for four or five years, so I should be able to look at the whole recruiting process and make a decision based on what's best for me."

There's no doubting the logic here, but as we have all become accustomed, the most passionate of sports fans are often anything but logical when it comes to these types of decisions. And, up until two days ago, the assumptions that Jones would eventually be a Husker simply because Nebraska was his only offer might have been accurate, if that was indeed to stay the case. But, another offer came down the pipe, this one from Iowa State and Jones isn't happy necessarily because of where it came from, but from the fact that it could be just the beginning. "It's exciting getting that next offer, because it's another school that's not Nebraska and it shows that others around the country are starting to take a look."

It's hard not to take a look at Jones, the behemoth standing 6-5 and weighing close to 300 pounds. And, that immense frame is motored along at a reported 5.0 clip in the forty. Regardless of what Jones has or hasn't done, his up-side alone is enough for schools around the country to take a much closer look.

And, they are.

"I've been getting letters from Kansas State, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Colorado," Jones said. "I've heard that others are interested to, but it's nice to get at least some attention from these schools right now, because you don't know where it could lead."

What it leads to for kids of this caliber are usually opportunities to actually choose the school you want to attend. A host of written offers is a luxury for any prep-player, regardless of how many they might have. That's all Jones wants now, because he doesn't look at the pressure as a reason to leave. In fact, he's trying not to look at it at all. "I am going at this like any recruit would," he said. "I am taking all of the information in, looking at the schools, their programs, the success they are having and how I might fit in with their philosophy on offense or defense and of course, look at the academics. I'm just looking at everything like anyone should that's in my position."

What Jones is looking for is pretty consistent with most recruits you'll listen to or read about. They want to see an opportunity to play right away. They want to go to a program that's not delving in some sort of winless abyss and they want most of all to go to a place where they get along with the coaches. Combine that with a good feeling with the players they have a chance to meet and that'' a formula that most recruits find to be just what they are looking for.

Is that Nebraska? Can you without your rose-colored glasses say that the Huskers fit everything that Jones is looking for right now?

Well, Jones is objective, but he's also grown up the son of a diehard Husker-fan, thus he's been a Husker fan himself and last year's disastrous season hasn't put a tarnish on the luster the Huskers created for him as a kid. "They'll be back," he said. "You can see what the coaches are doing and last year was a bad year, but they got a good recruiting class and it looks like they are building for a good future."

"I mean, people can get mad at me for looking around if they want, but they can't assume that it's not because I don't like Nebraska, because I do. I have been a fan, have gone to the games and I root for them all the time. It just doesn't mean that it's the perfect school for me."

It might be, though, and Jones conceded that while he plans on taking in the entire recruiting process, you can never count out the big red. "They've got everything you could want, really," he said. "It's a big-time program, great facilities, good coaches and the fans are always crazy. All those things are important to me, so there's no way I could ever count them out in this."

As most standout football players have done, D.J. has been to the Nebraska football camps. And, most likely, he'll attend yet another one before his final year of prep-ball. If he has his way about it, that's not the only one he'll be attending, though. "I plan to go to the Iowa camp and hopefully the Oklahoma camp," he said. "I don't know about any others, but that's just what's in the works right now."

Ok, so Jones is checking things out, exploring his options and he's going to take the entire process in, evaluating just what is best for him. While he's open-minded about a lot of things, he does actually have a preference in where he would like to go, at least as far as the conference. "I'd like to stay in the Big Twelve," he said. "I've grown up watching them, they play the kind of football that I like and pretty much no matter where I would go, it's not too far from home."

The kind of football he likes or that any players likes tells you a lot about the player and person themselves. It's a clear indicator of the attitude and while D.J. is warm and almost huggable off of it, he's got another agenda when the starting whistle blows. "Attitude, man, that's what you have to have out there," D.J. said of the single most important factor to have success in the trenches. "It's about dominating and making sure that they don't want to come back anywhere close to where you are."

"You've got to be a beast and make them sorry for even lining up against you."

D.J. will no doubt do a lot of that this final season for his high school career. He's got a few goals here and there, but dominating stands most prominent. And, there's also little doubt that Husker fans will watch him play and probably dominate, their minds ablaze with not what he's doing now, but him doing it clad in Scarlet and Cream.

That's the future for Jones as he'll have the enjoyment of the season and then have to endure the by-products of his success. He's ready for it, however, and even excited to see just what happens next. "I know the pressure is going to be there and already is, actually," he said. "It doesn't bother me any, because I know that no matter where I go, it's going to be the right choice for me. Maybe it will be Nebraska, but I won't know that for sure for awhile and it gives me a chance to check out all the other schools looking at me. To me, that's probably going to be the most fun of it all."


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