December 27, 2007

Jones brings leadership

While Alabama recruiting fans felt like Evangelical Christian (Memphis, Tn.) offensive lineman Barrett Jones was probably a lock for the Crimson Tide due to his father's playing days at the Capstone as a basketball player, UA wasn't always the preferential choice for the 6-foot-5, 270-pounder.

In fact, Jones has publicly stated as much by saying that his interest in Alabama was minimal under the regime of former Coach Mike Shula. When Nick Saban and his staff took over last January, the recruitment for the Rivals100 member turned around and Alabama secured his commitment this fall.

"When Barrett was coming up through middle school, he was tall then and played basketball in his father's footsteps," said Evangelical Head Coach Jim Heinz. "He got to a crossroads where he figured out he wasn't going to go anywhere in basketball but he had unlimited potential in football. When he made the decision to focus most of his attention on football, he really bloomed.

"Barrett is a young senior. He turned 17 in June and will be playing football as a young 18-year old. He has work to do on his speed and strength, but in the next two years or so, he is going to develop into a full grown man. I suspect when he comes back to town for Christmas next year, I won't recognize him."

Jones led Evangelical to a playoff berth this fall - one season after spearheading a state championship appearance in 2006. He often lined up both ways this fall, playing defensive end almost full-time by the end of the season.

"Barrett is a very good defensive player, and when we played one of our top rivals this fall, he had 12 tackles and was disruptive the whole game," said Heinz. "The top thing about Barrett is that he understands what he needs to work on. He knows he isn't a finished product.

"We are going to miss him most from a character standpoint. You can't get a better kid and leader on your football team. He keeps things in perspective beyond his years. When he is playing basketball four nights a week, he still manages to get his school work completed and work out in the weight room."

The classroom has never been a place where Jones has struggled as he maintains a 4.8 GPA thanks to Advanced Placement courses.

"Barrett reminds me of another kid physically that we had here named Brad Cottam who is over at Tennessee right now," said Heinz. "Brad wasn't filled out when he left here, but he is a physical specimen now after being in a college weight program. Barrett is the kid that you think of when you hear the sportscasters and journalists talk about upside. He could be a 6-foot-7, 290-pound monster by the time he finishes growing, and with his work ethic and intelligence, I really think his best football is ahead of him."

Jones ranked 42nd in the latest Rivals100 rankings and is the top-ranked player in the state of Tennessee.

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