March 1, 2009

Tai-ler Jones narrows list

When you have 28 offers as of March 1st of your junior year, things can get a bit overwhelming. Such has been the case for Gainesville, Ga. wide receiver Tai-ler Jones. So Jones, the son of former NFL player Andre Jones, has decided to narrow his list down to 15 schools with a bit of wiggle room for others who haven't offered yet.

"I've decided to narrow things down a little bit," said the 6-foot-0, 174-pound wide out. "I'm naming my top 15 teams, these are the teams I hope to visit and consider before I make my decision on my birthday on July 19."

So who made the list?

"These are in no order at all, but they are Ohio State, Oklahoma, North Carolina, UCLA, Alabama, Notre Dame, Cal, South Carolina, Miami, Auburn, Tennessee, Clemson, Michigan, Michigan State and Vanderbilt," he said. "If some new teams come in and offer that I'm interested in, it could change."

A couple of notable programs missing on the list are the two in-state programs, Georgia and Georgia Tech.

"Georgia hasn't offered me yet and they could be one of those schools that enter the picture if they decide to," he said. "Georgia Tech has offered but I don't think that offense is the best fit for me. They have a great offense, but I'm looking for a team with a more balanced offense between run and pass. It's a great program and I'm not looking to get out of state, but on the other hand it's looking more and more like that might happen unless Georgia offers me. But I'm just looking for the best fit overall."

Jones has already visited Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Auburn, Tennessee, Clemson and Vanderbilt and expects to visit the rest of his favorites during the spring and summer.

"I'm going to see Oklahoma in March or April, North Carolina on March 28, Miami during spring practice or during their spring game, Michigan and Michigan State in the summer and I'll take a trip out west to see UCLA and Cal either next month or during the summer."

So now that he's down to 15 schools, the question begs to be asked -- are there any leaders?

"No, not at this point," he said. "Each of the schools I've visited has been different and with each visit it becomes more confusing because these are all great programs. Sitting and talking to coaches like Nick Saban, Charlie Weis, Jim Tressel and Steve Spurrier is memorable and amazing. It's hard to really say one visit was better than another and I can't say I have favorites because I haven't been everywhere yet."

Since his father played his college ball at Notre Dame before going onto an NFL career where he played for the Lions, Steelers, Vikings and Patriots, some assume that the Irish have the edge.

"That's not the case," he said. "My dad loves Notre Dame and he'd love to see me go there as I think any parent would like to see their kid at their alma mater, but he is leaving the decision to me and not pushing me in any one direction. I've remained neutral throughout my life when it comes to college football teams even though he was always a big Notre Dame fan and still is."

So what does Jones want in a school?

"In addition to the football side of things, I'm looking for a coaching staff that develops character and that makes players better people off the field. I also want good academics and an environment that reminds of home. Distance doesn't matter, I was born in Canada and we moved all over the place growing up so it is mainly going to come down to fit and how I feel there.

The next cut for Jones is expected in June when he hopes to narrow down his list to five schools.

"I don't think I'll cut down between now and then," he said. "I think I'll take as many visits and go to as many camps as I can and then cut to five before making my choice."

As a junior, Jones caught 81 passes for 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!