Jones Just Likes To Hit

Tampa (Fla.) Middleton linebacker A.J. Jones had a busy summer, visiting several football camps and college campuses. The four-star prospect has offers from a handful of big-time programs, and we caught up with him to find out more about his recruiting situation.

A star linebacker, playing offense, took a direct snap from center in a shotgun formation and raced 60 yards untouched for a touchdown. He just didn't want to be hit.

Now, A.J. Jones is being hit from colleges around the country asking him if he wants to play offense or defense. But Jones just wants to do the hitting.

The 6-2 190-pound linebacker from Tampa Middleton is a 4-star performer ranked No. 19 nationally by Jones, who could now have the option of playing running back at the next level if he chose to, figures to play outside linebacker in college.

And he has plenty of options.

"I'm considering LSU, Florida, USC, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State and Rutgers," Jones said Thursday afternoon. "Miami and Florida State are the only ones really that haven't offered. Everybody else that hasn't offered yet says they will."

Beginning next week, Jones starts back at school at Middleton High School. Practice also begins next week, with his first game coming on August 19.

The season and consequent school year will end what has been a very busy and productive summer for Jones. He has gone to numerous team camps and visited a few campuses in the process.

Three-day camps at Florida and Rutgers have highlighted the summer for Jones, who also took a trip to Alabama's camp for a day. But the real thrill was Friday Night Under the Lights at Florida.

"It was really exciting," Jones recalled. "They had the jumbotron turned on, and they had sound coming out to show us how loud the stadium gets when we come out for a game. That was where a lot of the top players were."

It was a one-night camp held at "The Swamp" in Gainesville under the lights-just as the name suggests.

It gave Jones another shot at meeting the newest Florida head coach Urban Meyer.

"I think he's a cool coach. He doesn't change or whatever. He's a laid back person and I think he's really cool to talk to," he said of Meyer.

Jones, who said he is considering the Buckeyes seriously, will focus on his high school season. He hopes to accomplish big things.

Last year, Middleton was beat in the Regional Finals, just a step short of the states. He hopes they win it all this season.

"We have a good team and have a good chance at making it to the state and winning it," Jones explained. "So I'm probably going to wait (to take visits)."

When those visits take place, Ohio State will battle with several other schools to get him on campus. He is only sure of one visit, for now.

"I know USC wants one for sure," Jones said. "I really don't know on the other ones as to which ones I'll take, but I know I'll take one to USC for sure."

Jones, who says that distance is not really a big issue for where he lands in school, has taken both the ACT and SAT where he scored an 18 and 1260 respectively.

Last season, as a junior, Jones registered 148 tackles, 16 sacks, and forced six fumbles during the regular season in earning second-team all state.

And that's exactly why Jones will stick to defense, despite his successful campaign with the ball in his hand.

"I love to hit a lot better than being hit," Jones said with a laugh. "I like the freedom to roam on the other side of the ball."

Wherever he goes, Jones will be quite the hit. He will be dishing them out, as well.

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