The only Tennessee citizen you would have found in The Swamp on Saturday who wasn’t completely against the demolition of the Volunteers was Barrett Jones. In Gainesville for his official visit, the 6-5, 270-pound offensive tackle was able to see one of the finer offensive performances of college football so far this season. As good as the Gators played; it was the atmosphere that blew Jones away.
It was a great visit for Barrett Jones, but it almost didn’t happen. On a weekend where weather kept Brendan Beal away from Gainesville, it almost claimed another visitor.
“I got in Saturday morning,” Jones said. “Our flight got cancelled Saturday morning so we took a different flight to Jacksonville a little later on. Then we drove to Gainesville and didn’t end up getting there until about 2:15.”
“We got to spend some time in the F Club and got some food to eat. Then I got to see warm ups out on the field and how the players prepared. I liked getting to see the basketball team get their rings.”
It’s not every day you see a college team, much less in an SEC rivalry, put up 554 yards of offense. That wasn’t the most impressive thing for Jones however.
“It was an amazing atmosphere,” Jones said. “It was up there with the best places I’ve ever seen.”
From the hated state of Tennessee, Jones has spent his senior season leading Evangel Christian to a 4-0 record. He’s been doing this six hours away from the Volunteers hometown of Knoxville. Jones has seen plenty of Volunteers games and Saturday’s outcome did catch him a little off guard.
“It did surprise me a little bit, but Florida is a really good team this year,” Jones said.
Jones believes that relationships will be a key in his decision. Although the recruiting process focuses him on the relationship with his recruiter and position coach, he was able to spend some time this weekend with players who are potential teammates.
“I met Duke Lemmens and James Wilson,” Jones said. “They were the two who showed me around most of the time. They were awesome guys and they had great things to say about the program. I met Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, but just about all the other players too. I was with Zebrie Sanders for most of my visit.”
In Jones’ case, his recruiter has also been his position coach. His relationship with Coach Addazio has gotten much stronger throughout the process and this weekend was one of the few times the two were able to spend time together.
“I talked to almost all the coaches there, but Coach Addazio has been recruiting me,” Jones said. “I spent the most time with him. We hung out for a little bit after the game and then I had breakfast with him on Sunday. He’s a great offensive line coach and a great guy. He cares about his players.”
What Jones hears from the Florida coaches is music to his ears. With the Gators potential losing two offensive tackles this year, he has the potential to contribute immediately.
“They tell me that they’re still a little thin on the line and they could use a tackle like me,” Jones said. “If they can secure a great offensive line for the future, they should be very solid because their playmakers are some of the best.”
Jones continues to claim the same top five of Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina and Vanderbilt. So far, he has only visited Florida and Vanderbilt. With no timetable for his decision, he will continue to take visits through the fall.
“I’m going to Alabama and Tennessee for unofficial visits and will probably take an official to North Carolina,” Jones said. “I’m not really sure when I’ll be taking them.”