The 13th installment of this 23-part Better Know a Buckeye series profiles Jamarco Jones, an offensive tackle prospect from Chicago. Jones is one of several offensive line prospects in this recruiting class, though he was a threat to be an eleventh hour switch to Michigan State. That did not materialize and Ohio State fans are fortunate it did not. For the most part, his recruiting battle was among Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State before his June 27, 2013 commitment to the Buckeyes. I retell this story below.
Thereafter, I provide the standard breakdown of strengths and areas for improvement. I offer a highlight film and projection of a redshirt in 2014. I conclude with miscellaneous things about Jamarco Jones that you may find interesting.
High School: De La Salle Institute; Chicago, IL
Jones was noticed by some BCS programs much earlier than some of his classmates in this recruiting class. Someone like Terry McLaurin, profiled last week, was only noticed in earnest near the end of his junior year of high school. By contrast, Jones already had two BCS program offers as a sophomore. The first was Illinois, eliciting considerable excitement. He made several unofficial visits to Champaign afterward. The second was Vanderbilt, which had done well enough to get a presence in Illinois near the end of James Franklin's tenure there.
Ohio State took serious notice of him the summer after his sophomore year. The coaching staff asked him to attend an Ohio State football camp, which serves as a vetting tool for the coaching staff. Jones passed this first test and was offered a scholarship afterward. Jones expressed a fondness of his time at the camp and said he was excited he would get to consider attending Ohio State.
Toledo offered concurrently, giving Jones four scholarship offers in early June 2012. His list of offers grew from there. Before the end of the summer, he had offers from Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Northwestern. He acquired more offers from Florida, Nebraska, Ole Miss, and Wisconsin during his junior football season.
Jones' offer sheet was national but his recruitment was regional. His visits during the summer and fall of 2012 never deviated from the Big Ten's footprint, excluding a camp at Notre Dame and a visit to a Notre Dame game against the Miami Hurricanes in Chicago. Jones was never going to leave the area for football. While Michigan and Michigan State were the primary competition for Ohio State, Ohio State seemed to have the advantage.
Jones' relationship had a great relationship with Mike Vrabel, the former defensive line coach responsible for recruiting the Chicagoland area. He parlayed this into a return visit to Ohio State for the first Friday Night Lights camp. He returned again for the Michigan game to conclude the 2012 football season. He also made an unofficial visit in February 2013 for Ohio State's junior day.
Jones took several more visits, all regional, through the spring of 2013. These included stops in Ann Arbor, East Lansing, and Madison in April. It became more apparent to Jones on these visits that he had seen enough in his travels to make an informed decision.
An announcement date was scheduled for June 27. He also announced he would take just three more unofficial visits to Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State before making a decision over a week later.
All expectations were in favor of Ohio State before his June 27 announcement.
Jamarco Jones committed to Ohio State on the scheduled day of his announcement, becoming the 13th member of Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class.
He talked about the decision with 247sports, even saying he decided to not tip Ohio State's coaches in advance of his decision. He wanted to surprise them.
"I went back and forth this whole week," Jones said. "I switched my decision twice and made my final decision yesterday.
"It was a very close race. It was hard to pinpoint the final thing that would push it overboard. I was going back and forth, back and forth and I finally decided I wanted to go to Ohio State."
"It just felt right," Jones said. "I feel that they can give me everything I need and they can push me to become a better person, a better player and pursue my academic career too.
Jones picked Ohio State over Michigan and Michigan State. Before his June 27 decision, he acquired additional offers from programs as eclectic as Arizona State, Arkansas, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCLA, and Virginia.
In hindsight, maybe Jones' given rationale for selecting Ohio State last June should have portended the eleventh hour uncertainty that followed. Late in January of this year, Jones took an official visit to Michigan State. He entertained serious thoughts about decommitting from Ohio State for the reigning Big Ten champion Spartans. There were a few reasons for this, chief among them being the departure of Mike Vrabel for an NFL coaching job.
Despite an in-home visit from Larry Johnson and Ed Warinner trying to dissuade Jones from going to Michigan State, Jones took an official visit anyway.
Fortunately, Jones reaffirmed his commitment to Ohio State on the even of National Signing Day. He signed with Ohio State later in the evening of the next day.
Where He Excels
Jamarco Jones will factor into the offensive tackle rotation for Ohio State. It helps that he looks the part. He is listed at 6-5 and 290 pounds right now. It is conceivable he may actually be over 300 pounds right now. He will likely play at or near 300 pounds in college and has the frame to carry this weight well.
Jones' knee-bend sticks out on film and to observers. With proper knee-bend, Jones is able to keep his feet underneath him and prevent himself from lunging off-balance into defenders. He also moves his feet well too. Doing stuff like that well right now underscores that Jones has a high ceiling, perhaps the highest of his classmates at his position.
Must Work On
Jones is more certain now as a run-blocker than a pass-protector. This is true of almost every offensive tackle prospect graduating high school since high school football is, perhaps ubiquitously, run-intensive. Nonetheless, it is true for Jones as well.
Is Jones a future left tackle or right tackle? I think he is a tackle if he is anything for Ohio State. However, there is a qualitative difference between the two (i.e. rarely is the term "franchise right tackle" used). I like Jones' potential at Ohio State but am curious to see if he can develop to a guy who can protect a quarterback's blindside (in the likely event that Ohio State's starting quarterback is right-handed).
I am wrestling with redshirt projections for Ohio State's offensive tackle prospects in 2014. I do not expect Jones or any true freshman to get a lot of playing time in 2014. I think Demetrius Knox is the guy who will see the field first among the other offensive tackle prospects. Kyle Trout enrolled in January to get a head-start on his career. Does that make Jones the odd man out? Does it make sense to assign a redshirt to at least two of Ohio State's tackle prospects in 2014 with Brady Taylor being the most likely pick of the four for a redshirt?
If forced to guess, the answer is yes and that Jones will redshirt in 2014. I say that without any conviction, though.
Junior year film is below.
- 11W Community Interview.
- He missed the first half of his senior season with a shoulder injury.
- Though he reaffirmed his pledge to Ohio State the evening before National Signing Day, Jamarco Jones has Chicago weather to thank for him being one of the last commitments to sign with Ohio State.
- I tend to take a "leave everyone alone" approach to following family members of players/recruits on Twitter, but Jones' mother is one of the more interesting and nicer follows. She is great if you want a glimpse of what this process is like from the perspective of a loving parent.
- Jones is one of two Under Armour All-Americans to sign with Ohio State. Raekwon McMillan is the other one.