Steven Jones Wrestling With Big Decision

A towering presence at 6-6, 292, Steven Jones is living proof that size matters, especially in the trenches of college football.

When talent scouts talk about the Brentwood High senior, it's his potential,
more than his production, that gets them excited. Most concede he's capable
of continuing his career at on the defensive line in college, but many
believe his future on the offensive line is unlimited.

It's that potential, along with his capability of playing on either side of
the football, that makes Jones a prized target for big-time collegiate
programs throughout the nation. Undoubtedly, a player of Jones' considerable
dimensions is difficult enough to keep secret, but after his performance at
the Nike Camp this spring his stock took off like a cruise missile.

"Jones is a very good defensive lineman who has a tremendous amount of
upside potential," recruiting analyst Max Emfinger noted. "He had a very
impressive NIKE Camp performance and has followed that with another
impressive showing at the Tennessee Vol camp."

Jones continued to get rave reviews during the summer as he followed his
appearance at Tennessee's camp with excellent showings at MTSU and Florida.
In addition to his size, Jones displayed excellent agility and more than
adequate speed.

He turned a 5.2 time in the 40 at the Nike Camp and a 4.93 clocking in the
20-yard shuttle. He has since run a 5.0 time and has a 24-inch vertical
jump. Add that lift with his stature and long arms and Jones poses a 12-foot
barrier for quarterbacks to surmount.

On the other side of the ball, his long arms and quick feet would make Jones
a prototypical weak-side tackle in the mode of a Michael Muñoz.

The Insiders Jamie Newberg offers the following appraisal of Jones.

"Steven Jones is a no-risk prospect due to his height and mobility. Jones
moves well enough to get a look at defensive tackle, but he also has the
height to be an athletic offensive lineman. He has the long arms and good
feet required for offensive line play on the highest levels of football.
Jones has a quick first step that may allow him to stay on defense, but his
best position may very well be left tackle on offense."

Jones is fulfilling such high expectations by playing on both sides of the
ball for the first time in his career this season. He has started at
defensive end and offensive tackle for Brentwood High in a 17-7 loss to
powerful Brentwood Academy and a 42-3 trouncing of Clarksville.

"I didn't play that good against them,² Jones said his season debut. "There
were a lot of mistakes and everything. I came back the next week and played
better, but I can still improve a lot."

Jones' self-improvement program is being supervised by his father, Mike
Jones, who played nine seasons in the NFL for the Cardinals, Patriots, Rams
and most recently the Tennessee Titans. Now that he is home during football
season instead of toiling in the NFL trenches as a defensive tackle, Mike is
serving as a line coach at Brentwood High.

"He's coaching at my school now," Steven said. "He's helping us out. He
knows everything about how to play the game. He knows as far as recruiting
and he gives me a lot of tips on what I should do. Without having my dad
around to guide me, I wouldn't know what to do."

A recent call to the Jones residence in Brentwood found father and son
lifting weights and watching Monday Night Football. Strength training is an
area Steven is focusing on and he's making progress. He currently benches
325 and squats over 400. He performed 20 reps of 185 pounds at the Nike
Camp.

Since he'll be graduating mid-term, Jones is accelerating his preparations
for college and next-level football.

"This the first year I've played both sides," he said. "I think I did pretty
good on offense, but I can play better on both sides. Some coaches think I
would be better on offense, but I just feel whatever they feel I¹m better at
I'll play."

The question of where he'll play remains unresolved and with graduation set
for December and the high school season ongoing, he faces a lot of decisions
in a short span.

Tennessee, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Arkansas, South
Carolina, MTSU, North Carolina State and Georgia Tech are among a long list
of schools he's still considering.

"I'm trying to get like a top five, but I don't have that yet," he said.
"It's hard to do. There¹s a lot of good schools out there."

Jones, who plans to be a business major, is more certain of what he's
looking for in a school.

"First of all education," he said when asked his criteria. "The school I
choose will have to have a good educational program. Then of course I want
a place with a good atmosphere and a good football program with a good staff
and everything."

Jones is also certain Tennessee will be one of his finalists, a fact that
was underscored last weekend when he made an unofficial visit to Knoxville.

"Tennessee is a great area," he said. "I was at the game Saturday. Just
being in the stadium and seeing all those people, the 107,000, you can't
help but to get happy, get hyped to play and knock some heads. I met the
coaches and they're real cool people and the players are close. I've seen
one of their practices and everybody was having fun. The weight room is top
of the line. They have a top-of-the-line stadium. It's just a good school.
You can get a job anywhere with a diploma from UT so that's good.

"Coach (Jimmy Ray) Stephens is recruiting me for Tennessee. I love him, he's
a great guy."

When Jones isn't hitting linemen or the books, he likes to hit the local
theatre or video store.

"I like to chill, play games and go to movies," he said. "I'm a big movie
fan, I like to watch movies. The last good movie I saw was Signs.

"My favorite actors are Will Smith and Denzell Washington. I like (Remember
the Titans.) I watch that a lot before games."

Jones said he doesn't have any nicknames, but there is an adjective often
applied to before his first name.

"People usually just call me big Steve," he said. "It was kind of inevitable
for me to play football with my size being what it is."

It's just as inevitable that colleges would seek his services.


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