Big Steve Jones Glad To Be A Vol

Tennessee got a big surprise this weekend when Brentwood lineman Steven "Big Steve" Jones, 6-6, 295, committed to the Vols.

Jones was originally scheduled to visit Arkansas after paying prior official visits to Florida State and South Carolina. Instead he made an 11th hour change of plans and took in the sites at UT. During his visit, he finally got the feeling he had been waiting for and pulled the trigger.

"Yeah I did," Jones said as he exhaled a sigh of relief. "I've been praying about it and I just got that feeling. The coaches and players are cool. It seemed like a good, fun place to be for football."

Jones was hosted by Tennessee sophomore tailback Derrick Tinsley and has been recruited by Vol assistant Jimmy Ray Stephens. Jones' parents also made the visit with him. His father, Mike Jones, was a nine-year veteran of the NFL and has served as Steven's line coach this season at Brentwood High School.

"I had to take my three visits it was hard to choose between those three schools," Jones said of his decision-making process. "I would have waited until I took all five of my visits, but I couldn't do that. I'm relieved. It's a big load off of me. Now I can just focus on my exams this week."

Jones' exams are his last in high school as he will graduate later this month and enroll at Tennessee in January. It was that time constraint that led him to reschedule his visit to Arkansas, and Tennessee was the big beneficiary.

"I was supposed to be at Arkansas this weekend," Jones said, "but I rescheduled that because UT was in my top three."

Jones explained that his father has been very supportive through the entire recruiting process — providing guidance more than dispensing advice.

Neither was his decision influenced by good friend Chris Russell's commitment to the Vols last week, but he adds that it's sweetens the pot.

"We each had to make our own decision," Jones said. "But knowing that Chris Russell is going to UT makes it all good. It would be great if we can room together. If we can, that would be cool. I'd like that."

Jones' stock took a dramatic jump after posting an impressive appearance at a Nike Camp last spring which included: a 5.2 time in the 40, a 4.93 shuttle and 20 reps of 185 pounds in the bench. Moreover, he displayed agility and quick feet critical to effective line play.

Jones has since posted a 5.0 time in the 40 and has gained strength on the bench. He played both offense and defense this season after focusing on defense prior to his senior season. He could play either side in college, but his greatest potential lies at offensive tackle where his long arms and mobility can be put to maximum use.

"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 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, where he was voted Most Valuable Lineman. In addition to his size, Jones displayed excellent agility and more than adequate speed.

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 currently benching about 340 and should get a boost by being involved in Tennessee's off-season workouts. He's is an honor student with a 3.65 GPA who will spend his final week of high school concentrating on finishing strong.

"I'm glad to have it behind me," he said of the recruiting process. "You can just spread the word: I'm glad to be a Tennessee Vol."

Jones is Tennessee's six verbal commitment and fourth from the Volunteer State.

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