Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. These notebooks will now publish in the evening Sunday through Thursday. It’s Monday, and here’s a conversation with IMG Academy (Fla.) linebacker Mikel Jones, who visited Alabama and Auburn this weekend.
IMG Academy linebacker recaps first Auburn visit
Mikel Jones benefited from an old-fashioned recruiting double-dip in Alabama.
The 4-star IMG Academy (Fla.) linebacker did what many out-of-state prospects do when they enter the Yellowhammer State. He sandwiched an Alabama junior day event and an Auburn visit into one weekend. Jones went to Alabama in search of an offer. He didn’t leave with one, but conversations with defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi made him feel confident one will come.
Jones was able to bookend his visit to the state with a visit to Auburn.
It wasn’t a junior day as it was in Tuscaloosa. That allowed much more 1-on-1 time with Auburn coaches, including Gus Malzahn.
“At Auburn, it wasn’t a junior day, so I got to speak to a bunch of the coaches and Coach Malzahn, so that was pretty cool. I liked [linebackers] coach T-Will [Travis Williams] a lot, a real down-to-earth guy. I look forward to keeping up with him,” Jones told SEC Country.
“The highlight of the visit was probably just speaking and having good conversation with Coach Malzahn. It wasn’t really about recruiting or anything. It was just good conversation with him.”
The Tigers coaches who have been recruiting Jones the hardest have been defensive backs coach Greg Brown, his area recruiter, and Williams, his position coach.
Jones stands 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds with the versatility to be an edge rusher or an inside linebacker. He played mostly on the edge as a junior, but it was Lupoi at Alabama who encouraged him to put more inside linebacker film out there in the 2018 season.
These relationships with assistant coaches will be driving forces in Jones’ decision, which should help Auburn, given his relationship with Williams.
“Mainly, the coaches. Yes, facilities are nice and everything, but everybody’s got nice facilities. I want to make sure I have a coach, a position coach, that I’d be comfortable with for the next couple years, make sure the coaching staff is stable. A lot of coaches are switching schools, so I want a coaching staff that’s stable that I can get along with,” Jones said.
“T-Will likes me as a linebacker. This past season I played a lot of rush end, so he knows I can use my hands. He was just telling me to keep doing what I’m doing to get faster, stronger, bigger and perfect my craft. He tells me to not get too caught up in the recruiting, just keep playing football.”
Jones’ process is, more or less, just getting underway.
He holds offers from Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Louisville, South Carolina and others. Jones is a prospect — especially given the spring exposure at IMG Academy — who likely will pick up many more offers in the coming months. He has visited only Alabama and Auburn this year. He expects to make it to places such as Miami, LSU, Clemson and Georgia in the near future.
Based on his initial impressions of the Plains, he’ll be back.
“I told this to Coach Greg [Brown] when I was leaving. I didn’t have low expectations, but my expectations were definitely shattered after I left,” Jones said. “I really liked the visit, everything about it. I was very pleased with the campus, all the coaches and the atmosphere of the place. I just look forward to coming back in the summer.”
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