Sep 21, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Troy Trojans running back Jordan Chunn (36) carries the ball up the field and is tackled by Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive lineman Chris Jones (96) during the game at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday I looked back at the recruitment of a five star recruit that got away from Mississippi State. Today, I look at the recruitment of the highest rated player to ever come to Mississippi State, none other than Chris Jones.
Landing a five star recruit is never easy, and it’s even harder for schools like Mississippi State.
Especially when your in state rival pulls out all the stops before National Signing Day.
If you don’t follow recruiting (yeah, right) or just don’t remember, the recruitment of Chris Jones was a circus. Very little cause for that circus came from Chris Jones though. Jones was not a highly sought after recruit from the beginning. It didn’t make waves across the recruiting web sites when Jones committed to Mississippi State. Truth be told, we almost missed out on him ourselves. Had Mississippi State not been so close to Houston High, I tend to think John Hevesy would not have gone out to see Jones at all. Not surprisingly, when he saw what Jones was capable of, he was blown away.
But when an SEC school gives an offer to a kid that no one else is paying attention to, the attention starts to come. Don’t get me wrong, Alabama and LSU weren’t sending every coach they had to scout Jones once State offered him a scholarship, but people took notice.
The playoffs is where Jones stood out, and that is when the All Star games started sending him invitations. He impressed everyone with his play at the Under Armor All Star Game. Lavar Arringotn was thoroughly impressed by what he saw out of Chris Jones. It wouldn’t take long for Jones to rocket up the rankings on the recruiting web sites.
Every time the website released their new rankings, Jones would be higher up than he was on the previous one. Much higher. It ended with him being the number 2 prospect in the entire country, right behind Ole Miss commit Robert Nkemdiche. Which brings us to the point of the narrative where things got interesting with Chris Jones.
Rumors started flying that Jones was headed to Oxford late in January for the biggest weekend Ole Miss had planned for official visits. Jones even told Brad Locke, the Mississippi State beat writer for the Daily Journal at the time, that he wasn’t headed to Ole Miss that weekend. Locke ended up spending much of that weekend defending his credibility on Twitter after Jones showed up in Oxford. Once he got there, Twitter went nuts. Laquon Treadwell, one of the Ole Miss recruits who helped bring in other star recruits, went crazy on Twitter. He tweeted pictures of him and others out on the town in Oxford. One tweet had a picture of Jones and three other recruits in Ole Miss uniforms. Ole Miss fans started a #FlipChrisJones hash tag.
Mississippi State fans were concerned to say the least. The 2013 class was solid all around, but it would have lost a lot of its luster had Jones not signed with State. And State fans had reason to be concerned. Jones apparently was very impressed with what he saw when he was in Oxford. At one time, he was said to have been 50/50 between Mississippi State and Ole Miss. But the one thing, something that every college coach knows, that Mom usually wins out with recruits.
Everything that came out after Jones sent in his LOI to State was that his dad wanted him to go to Ole Miss and his mom wanted him to go to Mississippi State. In the end, it’s hard to go against your Mom. In the midst of the celebration that took place amongst the Ole Miss coaching staff on National Signing Day, Hugh Freeze was disappointed and acknowledged that his Mom’s wishes won the day for Chris Jones. In the mean time, all of Starkville let out a huge sigh of relief.