Respect is a funny thing these days, especially when it comes to recruiting. If you get in “too late,” as in only 10 months before National Signing Day, you are off the list. If you offer but then stop the calling, you are off the list. If you offer a pair of high school teammates but don’t show as much love to one, you are off the list. Stephenson’s Jarontay Jones, one of Georgia’s top defensive ends recently pledged to the Virginia Tech Hokies after several schools perhaps disrespected the athletic lineman that should dominate the Atlantic Coast Conference. If it is surprising that Jones selected Frank Beamer and the Hokies, he admitted in a recent interview on The Official Visit that Virginia Tech was in deed a bit of a darkhorse. “They (were) always in the race; they weren’t too far behind,” Jones said of Virginia Tech. Jones noted that he decided to get the process over with to focus on his senior season.
Jones was part of a group of four Stephenson players that were pegged as headed to Florida, especially after running back Mike Davis said yes to Will Muschamp and defensive lineman Jafar Mann also pledged to the Gators. In an interview a few months back, Jones sounded all but sold on the Gator program, and Mann even said that he believed Gator fans would have some good news in regards to Raphael Kirby and Jones. Kirby however declared his intentions to take his talents to South Beach and The U, and Jones shocked everyone by picking Virginia Tech. “Jafar (Mann) is a really good friend. He was a little upset,” revealed Jones. “At the end of the day it’s about me.” Jones did acknowledge that he felt some pressure to go to college with his friends, but he said that his teammates are happy for him regardless.
And why didn’t Jones decide on Florida or even Auburn, a school he revealed was neck-and-neck with the Gators just a few weeks ago? Some recruiting experts believe Muschamp and the Gators slow-played Jones. “No comment. They did kind of slow-play me, yeah.”
But Jones is excited about his future in Blacksburg. “The Hokies are the best place for me. I could definitely compete,” said Jones of the Virginia Tech program. “I have a better relationship with their coaches and they have me projected as a starter.” Jones noted that he eventually may be moved to defensive tackle from end. He called himself explosive and very aggressive against the run but noted in the interview that he could get better on the pass rush.
Jones was highly complimentary of the coaching staff’s stability with Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster having been in Blacksburg for years. “I want to be there with them my whole career.” Beamer is the longest-tenured coach in the ACC, serving as his alma mater’s head coach since 1987.
Jones says he is “100% committed,” but he quickly added that he might make other visits. In fact, if he could change anything about recruiting at all, he said he would up the number of visits a recruit could take.
At the end of the day, Jones says he is happy that he is Virginia Tech-bound. The Hokies respected Jones enough to stick with him despite his interest in other schools early. Beamer played his cards right, especially the respect card itself, therefore Jarontay Jones will likely end up in Blacksburg and the ACC.