Austin (Texas) Westlake four-star linebacker Levi Jones is serious about living in Southern California.
Having unofficially visited USC and UCLA last spring with his family, Jones was back last week with his parents to take an even closer look at the two universities. Jones first order of business was a mid-week trip to Westwood.
“I met with Coach (Jim) Mora and Coach (Scott) White first,” said Jones. “They showed me their defense and where I would plan in their scheme.
“Later on we went to the ASU/UCLA basketball game. We saw a lot and ate a lot… I really enjoyed myself and had a good time there.”
Having already officially visited Florida, Jones has special memories he will take from each official visit.
“Having already been there (to UCLA), I think with this visit I enjoyed spending time with the players and talking defense with Coach White the most,” said Jones. “Just hanging out and going over chalk talk on the board was great.”
Jones’ relationship with Bruins’ linebackers coach Scott White is one of several factors in considering UCLA.
“The opportunity to come in and play early and make an impact at UCLA is something I like,” said Jones. “Playing as a freshman interests me, but just the factors outside of football are why I like UCLA.
“Just the school and what UCLA can do for me off the field. And just Coach White, honestly. Our relationship is really good. It’s just a very attractive school.”
Jones and his parents then took a drive to Los Angeles for his official visit to USC Friday afternoon.
“Like with the other schools, I went down there to see the atmosphere, pick the mind of the players on the team and meet with the coaches,” said Jones. “I talked defense with Coach (Clancy) Pendergast and Coach (Johnny) Nansen. It was important just to be around them again.”
Jones, 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, is one of the few linebackers in the 2017 class that has spent significant time playing both middle and outside linebacker in high school. His conversations with USC have always seemed to gravitate toward him playing inside linebacker.
“We talked about me playing inside and they showed me the different things they do with their backers’,” said Jones. “It's awesome knowing I can play both and that I’ll have a great opportunity to come in and play early.”
Jones' memorable moment visiting USC was a bit more specific than with his trip to UCLA.
“Yeah, going to Roscoes Chicken and Waffles with Coach (Clay) Helton, Hunter (Echols) and the other recruits,” laughed Jones.
USC hosted seven official visitors on campus last weekend, including Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral four-star defensive end Hunter Echols. While some recruits tune out the sale pitches of their fellow prep stars, Jones is a sponge on official visits.
“My hosts at USC were Daniel Imatorbhebhe and 'Ced Ware, who is from Cedar Hill (Texas),” said Jones. “Oh, and Hunter Echols hosted me too.
“You go on these visits to talk to the other kids that are with you about what they’ve seen. You talk to the players, you pick the coaches’ minds… the whole thing.
“I talked to them about where I’m at with things and why it’s taking me this long to make my decision.”
Jones has been seriously considering USC since he was offered a scholarship early last year. With his official visit to USC in the books, he summed up the factors drawing him to the Cardinal & Gold.
“The family atmosphere,” said Jones. “Like with UCLA, they offer all of the opportunities of being in L.A. It’s not just about what’s on the field, but off the field as well.”
Jones will officially visit Florida State next weekend and then make plans to narrow his list of favorite schools going into National Signing Day on Feb. 1.
“I haven’t put a lot of thought into signing day as far as what I want to do,” said Jones. “I think after this visit to Florida State I’m going to cut it down — I just don’t know what to. Florida, Florida State, UCLA, USC… those schools are in there.
“It will probably be signing day unless I get to the point after this next visit to Florida State that I know where I want to go,” said Jones.