Ryan Jones methodically racked up ACC offer after ACC offer as he patiently waited for Tennessee to join the fray and break up the monotony. On May 20, the Charlotte native added the Vols to his growing list of potential programs.
The class of 2017 wide receiver is now looking through those nine scholarship invitations and counting as he celebrates the addition of a school he eagerly anticipated would throw its hat in the ring.
“It’s great. (Tennessee is) definitely on my list now,” Jones told InsideTennessee. “They’re high on my list. I’ve liked them for a while ever since I visited the school.”
The rising junior, who has accumulated offers from West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Clemson, among others, visited Tennessee for a junior day earlier in the year and came away captivated by the school’s palatial practice facilities and approachable coaching staff.
“They showed us the weight room and all the facilities,” he said. “I got to meet the receivers coach (Zach Azzanni.) I got to talk to coach Jones for a little bit. Everything was good.”
The most impressive entity on the visit was exploring Neyland Stadium, which he said stood out in a way none of the other college football cathedrals he's seen have so far.
“It was huge. It was way different compared to an ACC school,” Jones said. “It was by far the best facilities that I’ve seen.”
Special teams coach Mark Elder serves as Jones’ main recruiter and is presumably hoping to capitalize on Tennessee’s strong showing by keeping a steady amount of contact with his potential prospect.
“We talk at least once a week. We talk pretty often,” Jones said. “He checks up on me. Whenever school was in, he would come by and say what’s up.”
The Ardrey Kell High School star turned in an eye-popping sophomore campaign, ending the 2014 season with 30 catches for 680 yards and 12 touchdowns. Both high school and college coaches praise Jones for his coachable nature and soft hands.
"When I go to camps and stuff, they teach me and I pick up on things real well,” he said. “Then also my ability to catch — my hands.”
Right now the 6-foot-1, 202-pound wide out has the Vols listed as one of his favorites, along with Virginia Tech, Clemson, N.C. State and Wake Forest.
“I like a school with a strong fan base with nice facilities, and a school that’s high on academics, not just football,” he said.
Until he finds that fit, the Scout three-star — who believes he could make a decision as early as the end of his junior season — is working to advance his game on the field to catapult an impressive high school career start into an even better finish.
“I’ve been working on my speed and my route running, making it a little bit more crisp,” Jones said. “Also, staying healthier. I want to be able to stay on the field longer.”