By Brandon Speck
Chris Jones is as calm a high school senior as you’ll meet, especially considering the life-changing signature he’ll sign in two weeks.
The 6-foot-7, 255-pound 5-star defensive end recruit from Houston has a lot coming at him. Jones committed to Mississippi State in June but since then has drawn the attention of some of the biggest names in college football. Both winners of the last four BCS titles are making a hard push for him. Alabama has won three of those four, Auburn the other.
Recruits can make it official and sign on with their college of choice on national signing day, Feb. 6.
Just in the past two weeks, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Ole Miss have visited Jones.
He expects Alabama defensive line coach Chris Rumph to visit with him at school today. Jones is fresh off an official visit to Starkville and may go to any of the other three this weekend.
“I’m thinking about it, Auburn or Alabama,” Jones said. “I haven’t just decided on it. I’m still not sure.”
Undecided South Panola safety Tony Conner is likely to visit Oxford this weekend and Jones is contemplating it as well, at the advice of his dad, who Jones says wants him to make sure he knows all he can about all of his options.
“My dad wants to go visit Ole Miss this weekend. My mom, she’s just with the flow, wherever I go. I’m thinking about taking a visit to Ole Miss this weekend,” Jones said. “I’m just checking out everything, making sure I made the right decision.”
Jones says he’s hearing from recruits on both sides of the Mississippi State – Ole Miss rivalry.
Kailo Moore, who was committed to both schools and now to Ole Miss, has called him to try and get him to join him in Oxford.
“Kailo called me and Conner, I think he’s taking a visit this weekend and he wants me to roll with him. I don’t know yet,” Jones said.
Jones has become a star on the national level. A big performance in both the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and the Under Armour All-America Game has helped him to 5-star status according to 247 and Rivals. He is 247Sports’ No. 2 overall prospect behind Robert Nkemdiche, a potential Ole Miss commit, and Rivals’ 20th overall.
Jones has taken it all in stride and said he hasn’t let the attention, positive or negative, frustrate him.
“You’ve just got to deal with it in the proper way and acquire the facts and know what you are. You’ve got to handle it in a humble way,” Jones said. “It’s kind of crazy but you’ve just got to handle it the right way. You can’t get yourself overbooked or anything like that. Just take it one step at a time and not let it get to you.”
Jones isn’t playing his suitors. Florida planned to come to Houston but he canceled it. According to Scout, Jones also has offers from Southern Miss, Tennessee and USC.
“I wasn’t going to put Florida in that situation, to come out here and waste money when I knew I was never going to play for them,” he said.
Jones said he doesn’t frequent his Facebook and Twitter accounts, checking them every other week or every two or three weeks. Both are full of fans from many of his chasers, wanting him to sign with their school.
He said this process has shed light on the intensity of the Ole Miss-Mississippi State rivlary.
“It is crazy man. You never look at it like that when you’re in high school,” Jones said. “It’s crazy. I really don’t get on Twitter or Facebook anymore. It’s crazy.”
With Alabama and Auburn making fierce late pushes, he’s beginning to see an insider’s view of that rivalry as well.
“I believe it’s a unique year for (Mississippi), no matter who ends up where,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a very special year. I just want everybody to do good and be successful whatever they choose, make it the best fit for them.
“I’m very humbled. I try to stay that way. That’s how I keep this process cool. It’s been crazy. I just sit down and think about it.”