Washington D.C. Archbishop Carroll head coach Rick Houchens knows talent when he sees it. After all, Houchens has coached his fair share of talented football players, many of which have gone on to successful careers at the college and NFL level.
And the Carroll head coach believes his senior defensive end Cory Jones, who recently committed to Virginia, is one of those special players.
"I'll say this, based on my past experience, being blessed with a lot of major national guys who played in the NFL, he is clearly going to be a very special player," Houchens said. "His upside is tremendous and Virginia wound up getting a steal, I'll tell you that."
Jones had come out to a few football workouts as a freshman at Carroll, but his basketball coach had a rule against his players playing football. When Carroll's basketball coach left at the end of last season, Jones approached Houchens and asked if he could come out for football again as a senior.
"He got in the weight room with us and got into our work outs and he never looked back," Houchens said. "His senior year, as a first-year player, he had such great success in our conference [Washington Catholic Athletic Conference], which is like SEC football.
"He wound up recording 26 sacks and making first-team all-conference. It was just a Cinderella season. By the end of it, he would up with about eight offers, and all this is hitting him late in his senior season," Houchens said. "His offers didn't really start happening until late into the season because once people saw his film it was a no brainer."
All the attention was exciting, but new for Jones. Shortly after the season, he committed to Toledo, but soon after he started to wonder if he rushed a very important decision.
"He was just in a little over his head early on," Houchens said. "Once things soaked in, he realized he needed to take a little bit more time.
"He is a really level-headed and high intelligence kid, so I give him a lot of credit," Houchens said. "He took his time and then realized, he didn't really exhaust all of his options. He wanted to make sure he did that even if he did stay the same [with Toledo] or make a change, he just wanted to do it the right way and get the decision right. "
Academics were a major factor that Jones took into consideration. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder is not only driven on the football field, he is also a very strong student. Jones has been honor roll student throughout high school, and he continued to improve in the classroom despite the distraction of picking up football this year.
"I give him a lot of credit he was a four-year honor roll student. He had about a 3.3 GPA and he went from a 3.3 and improved his GPA to a 3.80 this year, and he was in honors classes. Not to mention, this was in the middle of all the hoopla between our season and recruiting, so he is very dedicated and driven kid."
After re-evaluating his options, Jones decided to take an official visit to Virginia last weekend. Heading into the trip, the Carroll stand out was already high on the ‘Hoos, but after seeing the campus, and the opportunities both on and off the field, Virginia seemed like an offer he couldn't refuse.
"He decommitted from Toledo when he knew he was going to take his visit to UVa, and then when he was there decided that was the place for him and he committed [to UVa]," Houchens said. "I'm excited about his decision, and it doesn't have anything to do with anyone but him and his future."
And Jones has a bright future ahead according to Houchens.
"He is going to be one of those versatile guys. He is coach's dream because he hasn't played long enough to develop bad habits," Houchens said. "He has such good work ethic that all you need to do is just coach him up.
"You can stand him up, put his hand down, you can play him in spac,e you can zone blitz him, drop him into coverage, you can play him on the weak side. you can move him around," Houchens said. "The possibilities are endless."
"He is so mature and well-disciplined for his age," Houchens said. "He can block out things that are distractions and focus in on the priorities. His desire and his passion combined with his work ethic just takes him to another level."
Coach Speak: Cory Jones
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