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Jones firmly entrenched in Alabama’s class
Mac Jones still hears from naysayers who question why he’d want to go to Alabama when the Tide have a 5-star quarterback commitment in this class.
Jones, a 4-star prospect from The Bolles School (Jacksonville, Fla.), flipped his commitment from Kentucky to Alabama this summer knowing Tua Tagovailoa was committed and more heralded in the recruiting rankings. He doesn’t care about that though, because he’s confident in his abilities and what he can bring to Alabama.
“I know that I’m the ‘second’ quarterback in the class,” Jones told SEC Country. “There’s been a bunch of noise about how I’m not as good as other people. I just want to go in there with a level head and get a fresh start. It’s going to be weird to be a freshman again. I just want to earn my respect from people and work hard for the best team in the nation.
“I know what I see in the potential to be a part of Alabama’s team. People ask me randomly — if they know about Alabama recruiting — why I would commit there. It’s kind of silly. It’s my decision and I’m sticking with it.”
He and Tagovailoa haven’t talked much, but they do communicate with each other on Twitter from time to time. Both quarterbacks have led their team to their respective state playoffs, so time to chat is limited. Tagovailoa has led the Saint Louis Crusaders (Honolulu) to the state semifinals and Jones has quarterbacked the Bolles Bulldogs to an undefeated season as the playoffs are set to begin. Both teams are expected to compete for a state championship.
“We’re both pretty busy with our seasons right now,” Jones said. “I know he’s doing very well over there in Hawaii. I’m really proud of him. Once our seasons end and slow down, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to talk to him more.”
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound prospect said he keeps in touch with coaches from Kentucky and Missouri because “it doesn’t hurt to talk to people and keep up the relationships,” but Alabama is where his heart is at.
“I still feel 100 percent for sure,” Jones said. “I only sent in one college application, and I’ve already been accepted. I’m locked in, and I feel pretty good about it. I don’t think anything is going to change.”
Alabama is currently running an offense that doesn’t necessarily suit Jones’ skills as a pro-style quarterback, but he’s not worried about that because he understands that Jalen Hurts presents the best chance for the Tide to continue winning.
The Tide won last year’s championship with pro-style quarterback Jake Coker, so Jones knows that if it turns out in the future that he’s the right guy to start for the Tide, the team would just readjust the offense just like it did for Hurts.
“I’m squared away with them, in terms of what they are going to do on offense,” Jones said. “There’s no confusion from me. They are just doing what’s best for them right now. That’s just part of the business.
“If something works out with a different quarterback, then they’d change their offense for that guy. As long as it’s working, I don’t think they’d change their offense. They’re always open-minded and honest with me.”
Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin played a big role in getting Jones to flip his commitment from Kentucky to Alabama. Kiffin actually stood up for Jones when the quarterback received a subtle message from a Kentucky assistant who disagreed with the recruit’s decision.
Jones is aware that this could possibly be Kiffin’s last year in Tuscaloosa, as he potentially could get another head coaching opportunity elsewhere. Even with a possible change at offensive coordinator, that won’t be enough for the quarterback to seriously consider other schools.
“I’ve heard the rumors about him possibly leaving. I just like the Alabama program in general, though,” Jones said. “I know that Coach (Nick) Saban will run the same type of offense. He kind of runs the ship. If Coach Kiffin leaves, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. It would definitely be disappointing for sure, so I hope he stays.”
The nation’s No. 15 pro-style quarterback visited Tuscaloosa for the Texas A&M game and plans to return for his official visit, which hasn’t been set up yet. He doesn’t plan on visiting any other schools before he enrolls at Alabama this summer. He would be an early enrollee, but Bolles doesn’t allow its students to graduate from high school in December like other schools across the country.
The latest with Wade
Since Jones committed to Alabama, he’s taken on a recruiting role for the Tide. One of the prospects he’s been trying to get to Alabama is 5-star Ohio State cornerback commit Shaun Wade, who is also from Jacksonville.
Jones and Wade played on the same 7-on-7 team this summer and are good friends. The Alabama commit talks to Wade as often as he can, whether it be through text, Twitter or on the phone. He believes Alabama is squarely in the mix to land him.
“I think Alabama still has a legitimate chance, but that’s his decision ultimately,” Jones said. “Just being with him (this summer) — he’s really quiet and doesn’t give out too much information. With (him having) relatives in Alabama, I think there’s a chance, but a decision is going to have to come soon considering he’s running out of time.”
Wade is an early enrollee, and a final decision on what he’s going to do with his recruitment is expected either later this month or in early December. SEC Country has projected Wade in Alabama’s recruiting class for months now, though Ohio State sources believe he’ll ultimately stick with his commitment.
“Shaun loves it (at Ohio State),” a source told Jeremy Birmingham, who covers Ohio State for SEC Country’s sister site, Land of 10. “He just says he’s taking visits because there’s no reason not to.
“I think he’s going to stay with us. I am not worried.”
As Birmingham points out, it’s kind of foolish for Ohio State to not have any worries because Wade has pretty much been completely open with his recruitment. He’s also expected to be in Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl later this month, which potentially could be his final visit before he makes a final decision.
Jones said Wade is using these trips to make sure he fits into the defensive scheme of the school he signs with.
“I think he knows that Alabama’s system works for him,” Jones said. “But obviously, he feels that Ohio State is where he wants to be right now. It’s far away, though. It’s cold up there. I keep telling him that. Us being from Florida, it’s too cold there.”
Several fans have told me that they feel like it’s a given that Wade flips his commitment — it’s just a matter of when. Let’s not forget that Wade has been committed to Ohio State for nearly two years now. There’s legitimate love for the Buckeyes, as Jones said, but the Tide definitely are in good position to steal his love away.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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