Tennessee’s staff has already put in extensive work with a number of prime targets in the 2018 class, getting a majority of them to visit the campus in Knoxville before their junior years in high school are even complete.
One such talent is Jacquez Jones.
The Scout No. 1-ranked inside linebacker in the Yellowhammer State and Hillcrest (Ala.) High School playmaker came up with family earlier this spring and again Saturday, watching the DISH Orange & White game in Neyland Stadium.
“Oh, it was great,” Jones told InsideTennessee. “This time I brought my mother and my dad. Last time, my uncle and my auntie. And they loved it.”
Tennessee’s defense was on full display for the 6-foot, 225-pounder.
“It was good,” Jones said. “You could tell they had a few players banged up, and they had to play with what they had. Other than that, it was really good.”
Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop’s scheme primarily uses a 4-3 or 4-2-5 alignment.
“I think I fit perfect,” Jones said. “That’s what he’s been telling me that he wants me to come play, and I can have an instant impact.”
The competition is fierce for the South’s No. 4-ranked inside linebacker who has over a dozen offers. However, Tennessee is in undoubtedly right in the thick of the race for a signed National Letter of Intent.
“It’s in the top schools,” Jones said. “I ain’t broke the list down, but it’s right there at the top.”
Shoop isn’t the only Vols staffer leaning on the ‘backer as head coach Butch Jones and linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen are lending a helping hand as well.
“It’s really a mixture. It’s between coach Shoop, coach Thig and coach Jones. We text every day,” Jacquez Jones said.
“The main thing (the staff discusses) is my family, making sure they’re supporting me and how they talk to them and all of that. That’s the main thing they focus on is my family.”
Jones, who ran a laser-timed 4.87-second 40-yard dash at The Opening Atlanta, still has work to do before narrowing his list of college options.
“You’ve got LSU, Mississippi State..basically all of them cause I really haven’t broken them down yet. So I’m still taking everything in,” said Jones, who received his first offer from Michigan on April 19, 2016.
“This is my last visit, and we prepare for spring ball next week. So I’m going to start getting ready for that.”
It may be another month or so before he makes another drive up from Tuscaloosa to Knoxville, but it’s bound to happen.
“I think I’m going to come back this summer, and I know I’m going to take an official here,” Jones said.