Recruiting can be a cruel when the numbers get tight in the days leading up to National Signing Day.
No one knows more about the numbers game than four-star wide receiver Mykel Jones, who found himself on the wrong end of it in February.
Alabama and Ole Miss were the clear favorites for Jones, but when the numbers got tight, Jones ended up signing with Oklahoma. Now, the Patterson (La.) High School product is gearing up to report to the Sooners in early June.
It’s a blessing in disguise, according to Jones, who broke down what happened in those last few weeks before signing day in a recent conversation with SEC Country:
Q: What school came in second? What could they have done a little better?
A: I would say that Alabama finished second. What really happened was they didn’t know how many spots there were going to be. I was just like waiting and waiting to the point where I was like I’m going to take this visit to Oklahoma and see if I really like it, and that’s what happened. I ended up liking it, and I was like I’m going to end up going somewhere that really needs me. I didn’t feel like Alabama really needed me like Oklahoma did.
Q: A lot of times it can come down to just a numbers game. How difficult was that to manage?
A: It was difficult to handle because I had to switch up a lot of things and start thinking about a lot of things harder, but at the same time, it’s a business. I know how stuff goes. I ended up going to a place that I really love. I feel like it would’ve been more of a settle to go to Alabama. They had who they wanted. I was just really going to be another number. It wasn’t like ‘Bama needed me. Oklahoma recruited me as if they needed me. I pictured myself being on the field.
Q: What was the most creative thing a school or coach did to get your attention?
A: I would say Tennessee was really creative with the recruiting process. When I went up there, they always had something new. One of the last times I went up there, they showed me a highlight tape, and a guy that was playing slot receiver. They showed me everything he was doing, and they showed the offense we run in high school. They like put his body right there and showed me how they would use me in offense, and I thought that was creative.
Q: What was the biggest rumor about you that wasn’t true?
A: That I was going to Ole Miss. Let me re-phrase that. I think it was that I was going to Ole Miss because of Shea Patterson. That was never true. I was going to go to Ole Miss because it was a good system, and they run a good offense. Shea played a part in it, but I wouldn’t pick a school because of one person. That’s my homeboy. He knows that. We talked about it a lot also, but that was the biggest rumor.
Q: There was a lot of buzz about Ole Miss at the end as well. Where did the Rebels end up in the pecking order?
A: Oh, they were third for sure.
Q: What is the funniest thing any head coach said to you during the entire recruiting process, either on phone or in person?
A: I think when Nick Saban told me that when he went to LSU, how cruel the fans were to him for all he’s done for the program. The way he explained it, they were like ‘F-U, Saban.’ It was crazy. I think that was the funniest part.
Q: What was your biggest regret during the recruiting process?
A: I think I regret the fact that I didn’t take all my official visits. I only held it to certain schools. I was only going to go Ole Miss or ‘Bama or Tennessee. Out of all the offers I had, I didn’t suggest going to this place or that place. I limited myself as far as that, and it really kind of hurt me in the end because it came down to a numbers game with not only ‘Bama, but Ole Miss and Tennessee. If I would’ve went to two more places, maybe it would’ve been a little easier to make a decision, but when Oklahoma called, that was perfect. I think it was God answering prayers to be honest.
Q: What was the funniest story that happened on one of your recruiting trips?
A: Can I include this past weekend that I just went (to Oklahoma)? I got locked out where I was staying. I was locked out for about an hour, and I had a flight to catch. I think that’s pretty funny. We made the flight, but we had to go through a good bit of stuff to get the door open. It was close.
Q: Which coach was it the hardest to say no to?
A: I think it was hardest to say I wasn’t going to be going to Alabama. It came down to a numbers game thing at the end, but I just had such a good relationship with them, and they had been recruiting me since my sophomore year and knew my family and this and that.
Q: Which school disappointed you the most during recruiting?
A: I would say Ole Miss. I felt at some point they just weren’t being upfront with me. I’m a realist. Say you know you’re about to get this receiver commit, right? They’re telling you, ‘We’re going to tell you before somebody commits because you’re the guy we really want.’ Well, it didn’t happen like that. If you’re going to say something, just be upfront. Just because another receiver committed, I had no problem with it. It was just the way they handled the situation and what they told me.
Q: Which head coach of a team that you did not sign with was the nicest?
A: It’s between coach Butch Jones and coach Hugh Freeze. They were all nice don’t get me wrong, but those were the nicest guys and just genuine people.
Q: Which coach was not the nicest?
A: No one really. I would say coach (Nick) Saban, but that’s just who he is. I feel like his character and the way he carries himself is a reflection of his success. I can’t really knock the way he acts because that’s how he is every day, all day.
Q: If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s the one rule you would change with recruiting?
A: I would change the rule that coaches can’t contact you. I feel like if you’re being recruited by a school, coaches should be able to contact you anytime.