CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ryan Jones didn’t travel far to showcase his talent in this year’s The Opening Charlotte. The hometown wide out plays at Ardrey Kelly High School, just 40 minutes south of Mallard Creek High where the Nike combine was held.
The familiarity surrounding Jones that day paid off, as he turned in a solid performance he hopes raises his stock heading into next season.
“I felt great being around all these guys that just came to compete and just work their tails off,” he told InsideTennessee. “It’s just great.”
The 6-1, 210-pound prospect has already secured offers from Clemson, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Virginia, Vanderbilt and N.C. State, with other schools ratcheting up their interest in recent weeks.
“It’s been good. I’ve had contact with a couple more schools recently,” Jones said of his recruitment. “I still have those six offers, but I’ve talked to Tennessee and Georgia. I’m starting to get a lot more mail.”
With SEC programs beginning to take notice, Vols’ special teams coach Mark Elder checks in on Jones at least “once a week.” That persistent communication has the class of 2017 product hopeful he’ll receive an offer from Tennessee soon.
“(Elder) tells me they’re excited about me and what I’m doing for years to come. He keeps telling me about UT and the good stuff they’re doing,” Jones said. “He comes to (Ardrey Kelly) pretty frequently just to check up on me, see how I’m doing. Things like that.”
The six schools who have offered him praise the rising junior’s ability to control opposing corners. Jones finished his sophomore campaign with 30 catches for 680 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“They say I’m just a dominant receiver,” he said. “They say when the ball’s in the air, I go up and get it. I just work my tail off and do what I got to do.”
Head coach Butch Jones’ propensity to throw the football is a unique selling point for Jones, who took notice of the Vols’ 453 pass attempts last year — the third-most in the SEC. Tennessee averaged 224 yards a game in the air and the Charlotte native said he wants to become a factor in that equation soon.
“The passing game, they pass a lot, and the coaching staff is real good,” he said. “I actually have talked to all the coaches.”
Jones doesn’t have a favorite on his list right now, and he’s patiently waiting for the Vols to extend an offer. Until then, the Ardrey Kelly star — who confessed he doesn’t know much about the history of Tennessee — will hope he can become a part of it.
“I don’t know much about UT. I’m hoping (for an offer),” Jones said. “They really haven’t brought up like a timetable or anything. I feel like it’s going to be soon.”