Purdue on top for in-state running back

Markell Jones has Purdue as his favorite school, with a visit in West Lafayette set for this weekend.

When Purdue extended a scholarship offer to Markell Jones, one thing immediately stood out. This could be the chance to do his desired profession.

Jones, a native of Columbus, Indiana, grew up around airplanes, with his dad serving as a pilot. He often flies with his father and maintains a passion for planes. At Purdue, Jones would become an aviation major.

"That would be awesome to get into that school," Jones said of Purdue's aviation program. "If you get a degree from Purdue in aviation, you can get a job anywhere."

There will be other options for Jones, too. Purdue is the first major-conference school to extend an offer, but Toledo and Western Michigan have also joined his recruitment. Indiana, Iowa, Louisville and Memphis are among those showing interest.

While Jones has a great appreciation for Purdue's aviation program, the Boilermakers are drawing intrigue from a football perspective.

Purdue assistant Gerad Parker has built a strong bond with the in-state running back.

"It's the relationships that I have with the coaches how interested they are with me," Jones said.

"Coach Parker is always nice to me and catching up with me, seeing how I'm doing. I always get phone calls, he sends hand-written letters. He has an actual dialogue with me. They're really working hard to build up that relationship, which is nice."

Jones is set for a visit in West Lafayette this weekend, where he looks forward to catching up with the coaching staff and touring facilities, both for football and aviation. Even before the visit, Purdue is the team to beat in his recruitment.

"They're at the top, definitely," said Jones. "As more offers come in, I'll reevaluate it. But they're definitely one of my favorites right now."

Jones sees high potential for the Purdue program, with the 2015 class serving as a catapult to better days. The intrigue he has for the Boilermakers is very high.

"They're definitely turning it around," he said. "They signed a decent recruiting class this year. I think they're going to hit hard with the 2015 recruiting class and sign some good guys. It'll be a comeback from them."

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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