In an era where recruits are often categorized as harder to please, higher-maintenance and always looking around for better opportunities, Tennessee freshman offensive lineman Jack Jones, who just enrolled in January, is somewhat of a throwback.
He’s taken the Volunteer moniker quite literally throughout the recruiting process and continues to do so now that he’s enrolled at Tennessee.
“I’m a Tennessee guy,” said Jones. “I was born and raised in the state of Tennessee and have been cheering for the Big Orange my whole life and I just couldn’t see any other place for me. It’s been my dream to run out of the T and I really can’t wait for that day.”
Certainly the Vols used all the pitches to him: 100,000+ fans, fantastic facilities and early playing time, but Jones’ college destination was never in any real doubt.
“It’s good to know that I could have early playing time, but at the same time, Tennessee offered me and two days later I committed,” he said. “I knew this is where I wanted to be.”
And while coaches had to continue to heavily recruit a lot of this 2015 class, Jones not only wasn’t regularly flirting with other programs, he went on the offensive, helping the coaches recruit others to this class.
His biggest target was also one of Tennessee’s biggest names on the board. Jones and five-star defensive end Kyle Phillips, who did end up committing to and enrolling at Tennessee, go back several years, and Jones volunteered to take Phillips’ recruitment on as one of his biggest projects.
“I’ve recruited a lot,” Jones said. “Kyle Phillips – that was the guy I really worked on. I spent a lot of time talking to Kyle because we both worked with In Full Motion, and we’ve been going against each other since we were sophomores, freshmen, so we were really tight. Kyle was really one of my close friends, so I was kind of like, ‘I want you to do what’s best for you, but what’s best for you is to come to Tennessee, so why don’t you go ahead and get up here.’ …
“(The commitments) have a group message going, we’ve been having that since everybody’s been committed, so it’s been really great to get to know these guys and to kind of recruit some of these guys to join us.”
Now that he’s on campus, Jones is turning his attention to what needs to be done to help the Vols’ offensive line and, not surprisingly, he’s taking a selfless approach to it.
“Tennessee’s offensive line is really young,” he said. “I really want to come up here and help in any way I can. I just want to be out there and do anything for Coach Mahoney, Coach Jones, any way they need me. I think this offensive line made a lot of strides this year and they did a great job as the year developed. They just got better and better. And I hope to continue that into next year – we’re just going to keep getting better and better. If it means me getting to play a little bit, that’s awesome. But I’m here to work and I’m here to get this offensive line better.”
And that could mean playing either guard or tackle for the 6-5, 300-pound in-state prospect out of Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Again, he’s not concerned with where yet, only with volunteering to help out wherever he’s needed.
“I’m going to try to learn everything I can,” Jones said. “I honestly don’t know that much yet, but we’ll see when we get there. I think spring practice will be big. We’ll start to figure that out more, and then we’ll go from there. I don’t (view myself as just a guard or tackle yet). I view myself as somebody who can play both. I’m going to work hard at both and we’ll see what happens.”