BATON ROUGE, La. — Bryan Jones‘ verbal pledge to Ole Miss on Sunday signals a major shift in LSU’s 2017 recruiting class.
Though the four-star prospect does not yet hold an offer from the in-state Tigers, he does boast a longstanding relationship with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron.
After getting word that the state’s No. 1 defensive end has committed to an SEC West rival, Cameron was quick to reach out to Jones with a short, concise message.
“They said, ‘No worries,'” Jones told SEC Country on Monday. “They said, ‘Anything can happen,’ and that’s very, very important.”
But “anything” is quite vague, and certain things need to happen in order for LSU to get back into the race for Jones.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder out of Madison Prep Academy (Baton Rouge, La.) committed on Sunday a week after Ole Miss defensive line coach Chris Kiffin visited the defensive end and made him feel like a priority.
That visit followed Orgeron’s trip to the Madison Prep weight room at the start of the NCAA’s evaluation period earlier this spring.
Jones has maintained a strong relationship with both Cameron and Orgeron throughout his recruitment, and the fact that both coaches have vowed to continue to court the elite defensive lineman is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“It means a lot because it shows that no matter what, they’re still there and they’re still with me and they’re still going to be there,” Jones said.
An offer from LSU still eludes Jones, who made two unofficial visits to Tiger Stadium in February, then attended one of the spring practice sessions.
The nation’s No. 6 strong-side defensive end plans on returning again in a few weeks when LSU hosts a prospect camp and is still optimistic on earning an offer.
However, he now has the luxury of an SEC commitment firmly in his back pocket.
“This summer, I want to come in (to camp) bigger, stronger,” he said. “I want to show what they’re missing out on. It motivates me a lot.”
Louisiana’s No. 8 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 has always been high on the in-state Tigers, even without an offer.
The LSU coaches have always displayed a mutual interest in Jones, and may be waiting on seeing the defensive end participate in a camp before extending an offer.
If that’s the case, then Jones remains resolute on earning an offer, which would still go a long way in the elite big man’s mind.
“It would be an honor … it would be an honor to pick up an offer from my in-state team,” Jones said. “Now that they notice me, it would mean a lot.”
Still, LSU is now playing from behind with the local product.
Ole Miss has a firm grasp on the four-star prospect because of Jones’ relationship with Kiffin and the consistent efforts the coaches have been since offering him in February.
Other schools — like LSU — remain in the hunt, but Jones admitted that even the Tigers have a lot of ground to make up if they’re going to force him to potentially flip.
“They would have to come in and do a better job than Coach Kiffin,” Jones said. “They’d have their work cut out for them.”
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.