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ATH Cyrus Jones gets competitive

BALTIMORE -- Meet Cyrus Jones -- the father, not the prospect.

Most recuitniks already know Junior. He's the four-star athlete prospect from Gilman High School.

As for the elder Jones, he's a bit more behind the scenes despite a prominent role in his son's life.

"My father is always on me," Jones Jr. said. "He's always been a competitive guy. He never let me slack. If I do something, I'm going to put the best foot forward."

While every father wants his son to have a better life than he did, Jones Sr. had some specific areas he was going to address.

First, he would be there for his son. Jones Sr. knew all too well what it was like to not have a father around.

"Every negative I had in my life I used as motivation," he said. "From my father not being around, I always made sure I'd be around my kids and guide them so they could develop and grow."

Second, Junior was going to be as competitive as his dad. That was a mandate -- and probably a bit of a genetic predisposition.

Dobbs My father is always on me. He's always been a competitive guy. He never let me slack. If I do something, I'm going to put the best food forward.

-- ESPNU 150 ATH Cyrus Jones


"I see a lot of myself in him," Jones Sr. said. "As a youngster coming up, I was always competitive."

That last was also mandated, but really not that difficult to obtain. Jones Sr. still remembers the disappointment he had when he signed with Clemson but didn't qualify and had to spend two years in junior college before finally playing college basketball at West Virginia. That wasn't going to happen to his son.

"Of course, my experiences are lessons to me but I also wanted to share that with them as well," said Jones Sr., who works as a probation officer and mentor for juvenile delinquents for the state of Maryland. "Academics come before sports, but Cyrus has always been a good student anyway."

As Junior moves closer to leaving home, the upcoming months will be a time of reflection for the Jones family. As any father knows, balancing discipline and praise can be a difficult task. When told how complimentary Junior was of his father, Jones Sr. couldn't help but be proud.

"It's definitely an honor," he said. "I always knew he knew what I was saying."

That drive certainly showed up last week at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., where Jones was named one of the top 10 players in the seven-on-seven tournament. With three touchdowns, including a 70-yard reception, and an interception that he returned for 50 yards, Jones proved he belonged among the nation's elite prospects.

College recruiters already knew as much. Jones has 30 scholarship offers and is just starting to whittle down his list. He'll visit Virginia Tech and Virginia during the last weekend of July.

"Both of those schools are in the top 10," he said.

When asked what other schools are in his top 10, Jones rattled off Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Miami, Maryland, West Virginia and Penn State.

"Wait, how many schools is that?" he said.

Eleven.

"Well, I guess I have a top 11," he joked.

That list will shrink to five, hopefully by the end of Jones' senior season so he can take all five of his official visits before National Signing Day in February.

Of course, it's natural to wonder where West Virginia is in the pecking order considering his father's tie there.

Neither seemed to think the legacy would be much of a factor.

"I just want Cyrus to go wherever it is best for him," Jones Sr. said. "My wife and I will be here. It's ultimately his choice."

When asked what he wants out of a school, Junior said he wants a good sports management and a good sports medicine program. He plans on staying around sports even after his playing days.

Not surprisingly, he also wants his chosen college to have "great people that can push me".

That sounds familiar.

"We just tried to get him to understand you always have to compete in whatever you do," Jones Sr. said. "He really understands that."

It's easy to see why.

Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for over a decade. Email him at davehookerespn@gmail.com.