Fighting Through

An Ohio offensive lineman has had to battle a number of obstacles in the recruiting process, but is starting to get some notice from Division 1 teams.

Nick Jones, of small Zane Trace High School in Chillicothe, Ohio, traveled to West Virginia on Thanksgiving for the Backyard Brawl. Although he's been to WVU's campus before, he learns something new every time he checks out the Mountaineer program.

"I got to see some new things that I didn't see before," said Jones. "I saw some buildings I didn't get to visit the last time I was there. The player lounge areas were one of those. I've been to several other places, and that was one of the best."

It wasn't all off-the-field scenes that impressed him, however.

"The visit overall went really good. I was impressed with the team and how they performed. It was really cold, but they played well."

Although winning the game isn't a big part of a recruiting visit, it can leave an impression on some recruits' minds, so obviously West Virginia's 45-13 win didn't hurt. Jones, however, has been impressed with WVU since making a visit to a combine on the Mountaineers' campus this spring.

Over his summer break, Jones tried to get his name known by attending as many camps as possible. In addition to WVU, he made stops at Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Georgia, Ohio State, Miami (OH), and Buffalo. All of those trips were designed to overcome the handicap of playing at a small school that is somewhat off the beaten path for recruiters.

"I am the first Division 1 player that Zane Trace will have had," Jones said. "I've sent out film everywhere, and we are just going with the flow and trying to figure out the whole recruiting process. Zane Trace just moved up to Division IV this year, and we only have about 450 students total. I do think the small size of the school makes it harder to get recruited."

While at West Virginia's camp, Jones had the chance to work with WVU offensive line coach Rick Trickett, who made a great impression on the hard-working youngster.

"I absolutely love [Coach Trickett]," Jones said. "I love the technique he teaches, and would love to play for him. He is a lot different from my high school offensive line coach, who is more laid-back."

Jones is getting some attention as the calendar turns into the final two months of recruiting season. In addition to WVU, which is in the process of evaluating his film, Jones said Wisconsin, Ohio, Miami (OH), Cincinnati and Colorado State are also contacting him and showing interest. He has visited all of those campuses except CSU.

Jones played offensive tackle and nose guard at Zane Trace, but is being recruited as an offensive guard by WVU. He has shown good feet and the ability to pull and get outside to deliver blocks on the edge. That talent was honed last year when Zane Trace ran the ball the vast majority of the time, but he was also able to work on his pass blocking this year, as his team threw the ball more. He believes that experience helped him become a better all-around lineman – one that is anxiously awaiting scholarship offers.

"When I talked to Coach Tall, he said that with all the mid-week games they haven't gotten a lot of film watching in," Jones explained. "He said they will be evaluating more film on me, so I'm figuring it will be after the regular season before I hear anything."

Jones, who was his league's offensive lineman of the year as a junior, has also had some personal adversity to overcome this fall. While on a visit to Cincinnati for the WVU-UC game, his father had a heart attack at the UC athletic complex.

"That was very scary," Jones said. "I saw my dad getting shocked, and they said he might have died if he hadn't been so close to the hospital. He had a triple bypass two days later, and was in the hospital in Cincinnati for eight days. Then he came home, and he was doing well, but Friday night his blood pressure dropped and we had to take him back to the hospital. We think he is doing o.k., but it has been pretty tough."

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