Mykel Jones, or better known as Mike by family and friends, has set up three official visits in the month of January.
"He's scheduled to visit Alabama next weekend, "Mykel's father Ed Jones said. "The weekend after that we are going to Tennessee, and the last weekend of January we are going to Ole Miss."
What makes Ole Miss attractive for Scout's No.268 overall rated player?
"I'm not privy to the talks that Mike and the Ole Miss staff have when they are on the phone together. I can only go by what he tells me and what we talk about as a family. I can tell you from his standpoint academics are very important. He's an extremely intelligent person. He has a 3.5 core GPA. He's always been an honor roll kid so academics are important to not only us but him. We have been impressed with our research of the academic programs at Ole Miss. He understands that there is a greater foundation in life than football. Academics are priority number one. We also recognize that each of these three schools have great academic programs so obviously we are looking into football program very carefully. From that standpoint I believe Ole Miss' offense with Chad Kelly and Shea Patterson coming in is very attractive. It's intriguing for any receiver to play in an offense like Ole Miss'. You know they are going to get the ball in their playmaker's hands and that's very attractive for Mykel."
The relationship Jones has developed with the Ole Miss staff plays a role as well, but there is still one key unknown ingredient.
"He loves coaches (Hugh) Freeze and (Grant) Heard. Coach Heard has done a great job recruiting Mike . I think we all trust in what he tells us. That's very important for our family as well. The only thing with Ole Miss is that we have never visited their campus. When we get up there on our visit he might tell me after a few hours he doesn't like it there. I have no clue what is going to happen. He could come up to me and say I love it and he's ready. We just have to see their campus to really know if it's the right fit or not. His visit to Ole Miss will let us know which direction we are going to go in. We have been to Alabama and Tennessee several times so we already have a feel what it is like."
Many have speculated that having Mykel's good friend, Shea Patterson, could play a role.
"Here is the deal. Shea committed to Ole Miss because that was the right fit for him and his family. Mike has to look out for his best interests. He has to be selfish about it. He can't go somewhere because his buddy is going there. He might not like it after his first year because he went there for someone else. We try and tell him as parents to go somewhere for yourself. Make sure you are comfortable. I tell him to take football out of the picture, period. Vision what it would be like if you just went to that school as a regular student. Would you be comfortable there? That's the real world. Shea is a nice person. They have a great relationship, and I love Shea personally, but his decision will not be contingent on me or his mom or Shea. He has to live that decision. We don't."
Alabama's success under Saban is the Tide's selling point.
"Alabama is Alabama. They play for championships. They invest a lot into building championships. Saban is like a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. While I was processing what was going on while we were over there on our trips I said to myself that Saban runs his program like a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. When you are a CEO of a fortune 500 company you have things in place that others don't. If a player can fit into the "Saban" way, he will flourish, but not everyone can. It takes a certain type of person that can. Does Mike have those qualities so he can fit in? Absolutely yes, but he has to be comfortable being in that environment. There are plenty of great players and people that don't fit in the Saban way. It doesn't mean you don't want to succeed if you don't want be put in an environment where it is the Saban way or the highway. At the same time I think any successful person has to respect the Saban way."
Does Alabama's style of play on offense come into the equation?
"I'm sure that definitely will be a factor. Any kid coming out of high school that is very competitive like Mike wants to be a major factor for their team. You obviously want to get into a situation where you will flourish and make an impact as much as possible. Now he has to figure out where he can make the biggest impact. Which offensive system is best for him? That's the most important part regardless of where he goes."
The Vols have been with the Jones' family from the start.
"We have been over to their campus a couple of times. We went over there after Mike's freshman year. We went back over there this past summer for their Orange Carpet day. It's a nice place. It's in a nice area. Their fan base is great. Coach Zach Azzanni is a great guy. He's always been there. They were the first school to offer Mike. It's a real family oriented staff. We want a family environment for him. The thing he has to figure out is if he wants to be a part of a rebuilding program or one that is already established like an Alabama or Ole Miss. That's a hard decision to make. That's what his decision will come down to as far as Tennessee is concerned."
When does the Jones family expect a decision to be made?
"Signing Day according to Mike. As parents we can only be patient with him and not put internal pressure on him. We have to let nature takes its course. At the end of the day I want him to be comfortable. My worst nightmare is for him to call me a month after he gets to school and tell me he doesn't like where he is. Don't get me wrong, I'll handle that problem if it occurs. I just don't want him to not like a place because he went there because of me or his mother. If he chooses that place on his on and ends up not liking it, I can live it."
Mykel Jones entered his senior season with a ranking of No. 106 in the country. He's dropped to the No. 268 player after not being able to attend any camps or combines this past spring and summer due to a torn ACL. He came back from the injury in game five.
"He got injured playing hoops last spring. He tore his ACL and worked his tail off and got back on the field six months later. The first game back he had two touchdowns and finished the year with over 600 yards receiving in five games of action. He came back like he never left the field. I think that shows his mental toughness."
Yancy Porter is the recruiting analyst for the Ole Miss Spirit and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org