Austin (Texas) Westlake four-star linebacker Levi Jones can empathize with the USC football team this season.
Westlake started out the season with a surprising loss to Henderson (Nev.) Liberty High School. Westlake only lost by a touchdown, 21-14, but it was the type of loss that made some around the program adjust their expectations for the rest of the season.
“Football is football, and anything can happen,” said Jones. “We started off the season with a loss to a team from Vegas, which was hard.
“But you see that those early losses really don’t mean anything — it’s all about how you finish. That’s what happening with USC down the stretch.
“Things are starting to fall together and the team is beginning to gel. Clay Helton and his staff just took over this year. They’re looking really strong and I like what I’m seeing.”
Westlake is now 10-2 on the season entering a Region 4 UIL matchup with United High School Friday.
Jones has yet to set an exact date for his official visit to USC, but he will be in Los Angeles for a second time next January after the Under Armour All-America Game.
“Overall I want to see the team, the family atmosphere and how everyone interacts with each other,” said Jones. “Over spring break, I watched one of their practices when I was out there and it was really fun.
“I met with all of the coaches and that was interesting. But I didn’t get to mingle much with the players, so that’s something I want to on this next visit.”
Having seen Los Angeles and USC in-person already, Jones has an educated opinion of what makes the school attractive as a college destination.
“I really like all of the coaches,” said Jones. “RealIy, I like USC in general and all of the perks that come with being a student there.
“The importance of the degree, the football aspect. I have some friends among the class of recruits they’re bringing in too. Just overall, you can’t not like USC.”
Before then, Jones is expecting an onslaught of college coaches making their way to Austin for in-home visits.
“Some coaches want to start planning them next week or the week after,” said Jones. “Right now the schools coming in after me the hardest are USC, UCLA, Oklahoma, LSU, Texas A&M Florida, Florida State and Ole Miss.”
Jones has yet to take any official visits, and is still in the process of narrowing his trip itinerary to five cities.
“There is a handful of teams that I like more than others, and maybe I can do without visiting a couple of schools on that list,” said Jones. “But those are the schools coming at me the hardest and the ones I’m paying the most attention to.”
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound four-star has played both middle and outside linebacker for Westlake the past two season. With 92 tackles, 12 or losses and three sacks in 13 games as a senior thus far, schools covet his versatility.
“Some schools like my inside, some outside, some see me as both,” said Jones. “I like both, but playing inside feels more natural to me. I do like playing outside though too, so it comes down to wherever I can get on the field the soonest and make the most plays.”
His conversations with USC tend to gravitate toward playing inside linebacker, where the Trojans have a MIKE and WILL spot in their defense. But to play inside, Jones knows he’’ll have to add bulk to his lanky frame.
“When I get to college, I want to be 225, 230-pounds,” said Jones. “I want to gain solid weight, but still be able to run. That will come over time though. I’m not going to push it.”