BATON ROUGE, La. — Last week, Ole Miss defensive line coach Chris Kiffin walked through the doors at Madison Prep Academy. He didn’t ask for head football coach Michael Roach.
Instead, he asked for Bryan Jones.
A subtle, yet powerful move, Kiffin requesting to see the nation’s No. 6 strong-side defensive end carried a lot of weight — so much so that it led to Jones committing just a few days later.
The four-star prospect reported 33 offers, but the consistency of communication from the Ole Miss coaching staff since February was second to none.
That made a world of difference when Jones decided to end his recruitment late this weekend.
“It was just something that I’ve been thinking about for a couple of months,” Jones told SEC Country. “As the months went by, my relationship with Coach Kiffin and the coaches (was great). Ever since they offered me, we’ve talked almost every day. The whole coaching staff made me feel like I was family, the way they talk to me and every day say ‘Good morning’ and see how I was doing. After I sat down and talked with my family, I decided to commit.”
Persistence meant everything to the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder.
Equally as important was his relationship with Kiffin.
The fifth-year defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator has a reputation that speaks for itself, and it spoke volumes to Jones. When he came by his high school last week, even his body language did the talking.
“He came by and couldn’t say much, but he made great eye contact,” Jones recalled. “He was talking about me every second, every second that he was talking to coach saying, ‘I want Bryan, we want Bryan and Bryan is a great guy.’ It was real positive, and he just made me feel like I was a priority.”
Kiffin’s interest level in Jones was obvious, but the coach’s body of work appealed to the defensive end even more.
His recent triumphs include producing 2016 first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche and grooming the likes of D.J. Jones, whom Bryan Jones admires.
Kiffin has convinced Jones that he can follow in the footsteps of those former and current Ole Miss greats, which naturally made the Baton Rouge, La., native believe that Oxford, Miss., was the place he needed to be.
“Our relationship was very good, and his work appealed to me because he’s been producing the best defensive linemen,” Jones said. “Nkemdiche just went in the first round and D.J. Jones is up next. Just a lot of those guys makes me feel like I have a chance, like I can be in those shoes one day going to the draft.”
Of Jones’ 33 offers, six came from the SEC, including Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
Both LSU and Alabama have kept close tabs on the elite defensive lineman, but an offer continues to elude him.
By landing at Ole Miss, however, Jones has a chance to compete in the SEC, a conference in which he has long aspired to play.
And for those schools that have waited to offer the four-star prospect, they must now prepare to see him on Saturdays.
“Ole Miss, once I thought about it, was one of the best schools in the SEC to offer me, and I just had to take advantage of it,” Jones said. “It means a lot (to play in the SEC). It’s a lifelong dream, and that’s where the greatest players play at.”
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.