The secret is out

Westover (Albany, GA) emerging linebacker prospect Jason Jones has been one of the best kept secrets in the Peach State's class of 2008 for much of the recruiting process, but schools around the southeast are now discovering the standout linebacker, who is blessed with great size and athleticism. Read inside for all the details on this emerging prospect.

Jason Jones, who measures in at a solid 6'2" and 220 pounds, has had to overcome his share of adversity in recent years. After a pair of ACL injuries early in his high school career, Jones has recovered to have two productive and injury-free seasons the past two years, including a standout senior campaign this past fall where he helped lead the Patriots to a 9-4 record and a run to the third round of the state playoffs. Jones finished his senior season with an exceptional 154 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and 3 interceptions on his way to earning local Player of the Year honors.

For much of his senior season, though, Jones did not know if any major college programs would come calling. According to Jones, he received his first scholarship offer from 1-AA powerhouse Georgia Southern near the midpoint of the season. Since then, Division-I programs like South Carolina, Ole Miss, Louisville and Middle Tennessee State have all extended offers his way, and he believes Auburn is not too far behind.

The South Carolina offer came nearly a month and a half ago, according to Jones. While he is admittedly not very familiar with the Gamecock football program, he knows they play in the SEC, and he's excited about learning more when he visits Columbia this weekend for his official visit to USC.

"I heard the town is very nice. My aunt stays close to that way. She's excited about me coming up, and I know it's going to be a great visit," said Jones. "Anywhere in the SEC is going to be good. I expect it to be a nice place to be. I'm just looking forward to meeting everybody and seeing the campus, the facilities and what the stadium looks like."

Jones, who was recently timed running a 4.59 second forty yard dash, said his recruitment really sunk in when he recently got a call from the Head Ball Coach himself.

"Coach Spurrier called me and left a voice message a few days ago telling me how they need linebackers there and that they can give me early playing time and stuff like that. That was good to hear."

Jones was previously being recruited by Tyrone Nix for the Gamecocks, but since Nix left to be the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss, Coach Ron Cooper has taken over as his new USC recruiter. While Jones has the size and athleticism to grow into an inside linebacker or potentially even a defensive end on the college level, he believes Cooper and the Gamecocks are recruiting him to be an outside linebacker.

"I think outside linebacker will probably be where they put me. It doesn't even matter. I just want to play."

Although Jones is looking forward to his trip to Columbia this weekend, he still has trips to Ole Miss and Georgia Southern scheduled in the coming weeks and does not plan on committing to the Gamecocks while on his official visit.

"I think I'll need a little while to think about it. I already know I'm going to have a great visit when I take my trip up there. I just want to get more than one perspective and see more than one SEC school," he said. "I'm looking to get done probably before February, though. I don't want to be stressed out about things in February."

When the time does come to make a decision on his college choice, Jones knows what factors he will be looking for.

"I'm looking for a good environment. I want to be around great coaches with a great atmosphere and positive people, not negative people. I want to be somewhere where if I need help, I know I can get help and if I need somebody to turn to, I've got people to turn to. I'm really looking for a family atmosphere when I pick my college."

Jones, who is a 'B' student and said he plans to re-take the SAT in late January, closed by describing what strengths he brings to the field as a linebacker.

"I've got good speed going laterally, and I take good angles. I read the play well, and I make plays. I see myself as a leader on the field."

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