Jones announces he's headed to Bama
Four-star ATH wowed by bountiful breakfast as well as family feeling with coaches
It was a breakfast Cyrus Jones will never forget.
"They had everything," the four-star athlete from Baltimore Gilman said. "They had pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage -- everything you could think of. It was delicious. It filled me up."
The smorgasbord was just one of the highlights of Jones' official visit to Tuscaloosa in October, and one of the many factors that led to his commitment to Alabama, which he announced during the telecast of the Under Armour All-America Game on Thursday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"The breakfast at coach [Nick] Saban's house was amazing," Jones said. "You wouldn't expect that from a head coach, to open up his home like that to recruits. It was definitely very exclusive. You felt real welcome there. It was like a big family. We all just ate breakfast and talked. We even rode around Coach Saban's lake on his golf cart, shot baskets in the back.
"We did a lot of real bonding."
The bonding resulted in trust.
"With other schools, I have my doubts, but I really trust Coach Saban and [linebackers] coach [Sal] Sunseri and the plan they have in store for me," he said. "I believe if I just go down there and work hard, listen to them and be willing to learn and be coachable, the sky is the limit for what I can do. Obviously, my goal is to get to the next level. I believe I can do that there."
Being tight with Saban and Sunseri wasn't the only factor in Jones' decision. Perhaps more importantly, the nation's fifth-best athlete prospect sees himself as a perfect fit for the Crimson Tide's offense. Jones said the coaches told him he'd be a slot receiver like current Bama receiver Marquis Maze.
"At Bama, you always have the big, tall receivers that can go down the field," said the 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior. "But there's very few guys that can do different things like go down the field, take sweeps and stuff like that, and make something out of nothing. I think I can do that."
Jones also is tabbed to return kicks and punts.
"I think I can make a real impact there," he said.
Jones said Virginia Tech was second in the running, partly because of his close relationship with his recruiter, receivers coach Kevin Sherman.
"He's a great guy," Jones said. "It was tough saying no to him, but I have to do what's best for me."
Coming from a prestigious school such as Gilman, academics were certainly a factor in Jones' recruitment, but for him football was the ultimate reason to join the Crimson Tide.
"I have good grades in high school," Jones said. "I think they'll be able to help me stay on the straight and narrow, and I'll be able to walk out of there with a degree in maybe three years, the way that the system is set up down there. I just think it's the best of both worlds.
"Everybody says Alabama isn't the most prestigious of academic schools, but I think anywhere you go, any college degree is a good degree. The best education is the free one. You can't really go wrong with what school you pick. You're going to get a good education wherever you go. But I think it's the best school for me to try to accomplish my goal and get to the next level."
Until then, Jones can enjoy the many perks of a scholarship offer, including free breakfast.
Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for more than a decade. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.