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July 25, 2013

'15 Jones sets goals, bonds with future Vols

Jack Jones has competed in camps across the South, committed to the team for which he grew up cheering and had every opportunity to become distracted this summer.

Instead, the 2015 offensive lineman from Murfreesboro Oakland and University of Tennessee commitment is more dialed in than ever.

"Well, me and my offensive line, B.J. Oliver, he's the best coach in the state of Tennessee I think and Matt Snow, our other offensive line coach and also one of the best in Tennessee, sat me down and said we want to hear your three goals for becoming a better player," Jones said. "They basically matched up. Become a better leader, not only through yelling and breaking the workouts down but also being a servant to others. And also, the second one was my goal to win a state championship. And the third one, it's to work to be one of the most dominant lineman to come through Oakland and our district in the state of Tennessee.

"So I'm just going to focus on those three things. I have a really good feeling about this team. It's a great group of guys. We don't really have any prima donnas. We're all focused on the same goal, we're at Oakland High School right now and college football will come. But let's make some of the best memories we'll have under the Friday night lights in high school football. I just have a great feeling about our team right now."

Jones, who committed to Butch Jones and Tennessee in May just days after receiving his verbal offer from the Volunteers, also has an even greater comfort level with his future coaches and teammates after spending 'FoundaTion Weekend' on Rocky Top.

"I had a great time. Especially getting to hang with my some of my class '15 guys, Zach Stewart and Andrew Butcher, and it was real cool to meet some '14s I hadn't met yet," said the articulate, 6-foot-5, 270-pounder. "I talked and spent time with them and the coaches. Just developed better relationships."

With UT's Jones opening up the event to families, Jack Jones said his entire family got a better feel for Rocky Top last weekend, including his future teammates, coaches, facilities and campus life.

"It was awesome. You tweet and text these guys and now you get to start developing that relationship. Jalen Hurd was on my team, so me and Jalen talked a lot," said Jones, referencing the teams of recruits that competed in putt-putt, 3-point shooting and other events at UT. "We knew each other a little and played against each other, but we hadn't talked that much. It was really good developing that relationship. And it was the first time my whole family went up there. My Mom loved the whole family aspect, and one of Coach Jones' big things is having a family atmosphere."

Indeed, Jones said everything Tennessee's first-year coach has said thus far has come to fruition --- and the rising junior and projected top-10 in-state player pointed to one of the Vols' biggest rivals to evidence his point.

"Coach Jones, if there's anything, he means what he says. Everything he's said to me so far has happened," Jones explained. "Nick Saban made a comment at SEC Media Days that Tennessee is going to be back to the top in a few years. Everyone kind of knows it's happening. A lot of guys are hopping on, and they're even getting to the point of having to tell some guys there's no more room. This legendary Class of '14 is going to be a great kick-off. I think there's going to be a strong and long Butch Jones legacy at UT."

And Jones said he and his classmates already are hatching plans to ensure that '15 class follows the standard currently being set by the '14 group.

"We've already been talking. We're going to hit it really hard after this football season," Jones said. "So we're going to really hit it hard and there's already a bunch of guys in the state that have been offered. There are two guys (Emmanuel and Josh Smith) in my own locker room that I hit hard every day. The guys we've got now, with Andrew and Zach, after football season we're going to be hammering some dudes but at same time we don't wanna kill 'em. Just kind of have a hand on their shoulder kind of guiding them toward UT. Doing the 'Vic Wharton,' that's my joke. I call him the head recruiter for UT right now."

It's a roll Jones could fill himself in a few months, when the Class of '14 signs and Tennessee looks toward the next wave of its future.


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