Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we talk the latest with Alabama’s top quarterback target in the 2018 class.
Emory Jones still saying all the right things
FRANKLIN, Ga. — Emory Jones, Alabama’s top quarterback target in the 2018 class, led Heard County to its best season in school history. The Braves, however, came up 5.3 seconds short of possibly sending their semifinal game against Hapeville Charter to overtime on Friday. The Hornets won 28-21, ending Jones’ remarkable high school career.
As an aside, and it’s something that needs to be said for my next point, I personally don’t like doing recruiting interviews with recruits after an emotional game. Once Heard County officially lost after attempting a miracle play on the kickoff, Jones, and many of his teammates, started to cry. Hapeville Charter showed tremendous sportsmanship for winning in such an exciting fashion. Every Hornets player came up to Jones and told him how great of a job he did. It was cool to see because these guys are teenagers and easily could have gloated.
Emory Jones and Heard County fall one game short of the state finals. pic.twitter.com/hb6eavNivS
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) December 2, 2017
I waited around for 30 minutes after the game. What seemed like every Heard County supporter came up and thanked the teary-eyed Jones for what he had done in his high school career. Jones said his tears weren’t for losing the game; the tears started flowing once he realized that he was never going to go to battle with his teammates again.
“This is my last time playing with these people who I’ve been playing with for the past four years,” Jones told SEC Country. “I’m not going to be able to play with them again or go to practice with them. On the next level, it’s all serious. There’s no more playing around.
“We’re really a brotherhood here. We love each other. It’s not like anywhere else. Almost everyone on this team has to play both sides [of the ball]. You have to have heart. I’m really going to miss this place. I love this community.”
I didn’t expect to get any quotes from Jones on Friday night, especially after losing the way Heard County did. The past few times he had an opportunity to talk with the media, he denied the reporters’ requests. I’ve talked with Jones 1-on-1 several times before. He knew why I was there.
Jones saw me after about 30 minutes after the game on the field, walked over to me, shook my hand and asked me if I wanted to talk. I was kind of startled because in my 2-plus years covering recruiting that hadn’t happened before. Like I said, I expected to not speak with Jones after the game and I didn’t try to interview him because, to me, talking about recruiting in those situations is the last thing players want to do.
But, again, Jones knows I cover Alabama recruiting and told me I could ask recruiting questions.
The Under Armour All-American will enroll early at the school of his choice. He told me that he may have a “fake” signing ceremony on Dec. 19, which is the day before the early signing period begins. Dec. 19 is the last day of school for Jones, and he wants his teammates and coaches there when he makes his final decision.
Jones has said throughout the fall that he’s 100 percent committed to Ohio State. He didn’t say that Friday. He mentioned that he’s still “making sure everything is good and he needs to be comfortable with everything.” Jones also said, “When I make that decision on where I’m going, I’m sticking with it and not looking back.”
It didn’t sound like he was still 100 percent committed to the Buckeyes.
“I mean, I’m committed there,” Jones said. “I am checking out other schools, though. When I told them that I was 110 percent committed, I said that I wanted to continue visiting schools. Before I committed, I didn’t get the chance to do so. I think they didn’t really care at the time I told them. When I actually started doing it though, they definitely got worried. But I’m still committed. As of right now, that’s where I’m going.”
Ohio State has offered other quarterbacks. The Buckeyes have extended scholarships to Jarren Williams and Matthew Baldwin in recent weeks. Jones said he was notified by the Ohio State staff that other quarterbacks were going to start receiving offers.
“I really don’t care. It’s a business. I know how it goes,” Jones said. “They let me know that they were going to do it beforehand. When I started going on visits, they told me that they were going to have to start taking people in on official visits. I was OK with it. But I’m committed there. It’s not a big deal.”
The 5-star prospect said he’s still considering Alabama and Auburn. He said with it being this close to Signing Day, no other school would likely get in the mix for him.
He also isn’t sure if he’s going to take any other official visits in the coming weeks. He has already taken one to Alabama and Ohio State. Jones also visited Auburn twice in November. Both times he didn’t bring his mother, Trina, who is an important person in his recruitment.
Jones said he also isn’t sure when he’s going to have in-home visits with college coaches. He hasn’t been focused on recruiting because he was concentrating on trying to win a state championship.
The nation’s No. 3 dual-threat prospect said he doesn’t have a No. 2 school and that both Alabama and Auburn were on the same level, but I’d give the Tide the edge because his mother has been to Tuscaloosa.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was at Jones’ game this past Friday. Jones is a fan of Daboll and the offense he runs.
“They kind of run the same offense that we do [at Heard County],” Jones said. “We will run, run and run some more and then come out with a pass. Coach Daboll has brought a better passing game to Alabama this season. I’ve seen Jalen [Hurts] progress as a passer, even though it may not show sometimes just because there are lots of things going on in the games. He definitely has progressed, though. I know Coach Daboll can help develop me as a quarterback.”
For someone who said he hasn’t been focusing on recruiting all that much, Jones did acknowledge that he has seen the reports and the rumors that he’s going to be the Tide’s quarterback in the 2018 class.
“I mean, I’m committed to Ohio State,” Jones said with a laugh. “I’ve been committed to them for like two years. I think I would have de-committed by now if I wasn’t going there. I still talk to Coach [Urban] Meyer and the staff all of the time. So, I don’t know why people think that.”
From talking with sources who are plugged into both Alabama’s and Auburn’s programs, I know both sides do not expect him at Ohio State. But, like he said, he has been committed there for so long and it’s his dream school.
We’ll know what Jones’ final decision will be in the next few weeks. It should be a wild ride.
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