Jones sees starting opportunity at Purdue

Keiwan Jones hopes to start as a freshman and begin turning the Purdue program around.

Sunshine State native Keiwan Jones felt right at home with Purdue during his weekend visit. In fact, the cold Midwest winter even felt welcoming.

"You can see sunshine anywhere, but you can't see snow everywhere," Jones joked on Wednesday, one day after giving Purdue his verbal pledge.

Jones became the Boilermakers' second verbal pledge from a weekend that saw more than 20 official visitors on campus in West Lafayette. Linebacker JaWhaun Bentley was the first, committing on Saturday, and cornerback Brandon Roberts followed Jones with a Tuesday morning pledge.

The news of these commitments—with more likely to come this week—is no surprise for Jones. While visiting with the recruits, he could sense it was coming.

"It was an atmosphere full of guys that you could feel the energy you didn't have to say anything, but you could feel that they wanted to win," said Jones.

"As a football player, it's the best atmosphere to be in—to be around a bunch of guys that feel the same way you do about the game. It was remarkable."

Jones only recently jumped onto Purdue's recruiting board, with offensive line coach Jim Bridge building a strong relationship with the Dunnellon, Fla. product.

"This man has so much energy, and it's great energy," Jones said of his lead recruiter. "It's great, great energy."

Throughout the visit, Jones made new connections. He bonded with the players, coaches and recruits.

"We all clicked," said Jones. "It was like I was already there and we were already brothers."

In the end, Jones knew Purdue was right when it brought back memories from years ago.

As a high school sophomore, his football coach took him to Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, better known as "The Swamp", where he fell in love with the game of football. Standing at midfield and taking in the stadium, he realized the dream of playing in college.

That same feeling returned to Jones on Saturday when he stepped on campus.

"I felt this is where I wanted play," Jones added.

Jones will move to campus for good in June, and that's when he begins vying for a starting job.

"The opportunity is open," he said. "With my mentality, I feel like I can go in as a true freshman, start, and help turn this program around."

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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