High school football has often been full of uncertainty for Mark Jones. Each of the last two seasons has given him a shot at a new position, and his senior year will feature him on both sides of the football for the first time in his life. When he is on the field however, Jones is all about getting the victory for his team from wherever he is needed.
Coming into his sophomore year of high school, Mark Jones was an athlete with tons of ability, but no clear cut position. Athleticism has never been a problem for the Flagler Palm Coast HS prospect, so the Bulldog coaching staff has plugged him in where his ability best suits the team.
“This is the first year I’ll be playing both ways, so I’ve got to focus harder,” Jones said. “My sophomore year I just played safety, and then this past fall the team needed me to play quarterback. I’m being recruited as a safety so I’ll be playing there a lot my senior year, but my team needs me at quarterback too.”
The 6-0, 205-pound safety loves having the ability to play offense. He says it gives him a much better understanding of his role on defense, but don’t let that make you think he can’t perform on offense. During his junior year, he was 73-110, for 1,296 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also proved that he can be a dual threat quarterback, as he rushed for over 400 yards and scored three touchdowns on the ground.
Even with his impressive stats as a junior, Jones knows that his future is on the defensive side of the ball. In his first season on defense since his sophomore year, it will be very interesting to see how he performs this fall.
“I’m being recruited as a safety, just because most schools are looking for 6-3, 6-4 quarterbacks and I’m fine with that,” Jones said. “I’ve been playing the position long enough, but I’m still learning about it.”
Though he has played a lot of offense in his career, don’t think that he doesn’t like to punish people. In fact, Jones said he has missed the defensive side of the ball and looks forward to hitting many ball carriers in the fall.
“I like playing down and making hits as a strong safety,” Jones said. “I like to get in the mix and hit people.”
You can tell by talking to Mark Jones that he is the type of player that would enjoy the recruiting process. Being able to visit different places and meet new people is something that is causing him to enjoy the procedure.
“It’s going real well,” Jones said. “I’m actually having fun with it. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people so far, and it hasn’t really been too stressful.”
The bright spot of his recruitment so far actually came a few days prior to our conversation with the Bunnell (FL) prospect. He not only got his first offer, but received it from a very high profile football school.
“I actually just received my first offer from West Virginia,” Jones said. “USF, UCF, LSU, and Wisconsin have all come down to see me. They talk to you like they like you as a player but you don’t know how they really feel until they see you in a game.”
Jones does have a current top three and claims that he is receiving interest from all three schools. Though he only has an offer from one of them, he understands that the offers will come as the process continues throughout the year.
“The top three schools that I have interest in are Florida, Florida State, West Virginia,” Jones said.
Location will not be an issue for Jones in his decision making, however staying close to home would be a perk for his decision. He does know exactly what he likes about his current top three and is very interested in gaining more information.
Florida- “I just love their coaching staff. They are real down to earth and they talk like they’re related to you. You know that they really do care. I also like facilities and academics of the school. It’s a great environment for college football.”
FSU- “I went two or three weeks ago for the Nike camp and that was actually my first time there. I’ve grown up a Florida State fan so I’m interested in them.”
West Virginia- “They run the spread offense with Pat White and Steve Slaton real well and that’s a real good school. They run the same offense as Florida but the Gators are better and have more ability on offense.”
The safety prospect has been receiving letters from the Florida staff and has even been to Gainesville before, with plans to return again shortly.
“I get letters from Coach Mattison,” Jones said. “He told me he was going to try and stop by during our spring practices. I went to their Junior Day in March and I think I’m going to their individual position camp this summer.”
In the games he was able to see last year, Jones sees a perfect match between the Gator defense and himself. Though he will play more of a strong safety position in college, he thoroughly enjoyed watching the ability of a former Gator safety last season.
“I think I fit in that defense real well,” Jones said. “I loved watching that Reggie Nelson play last year. I think I definitely have the ability to play at that level.”
When the process has ended and a decision has been reached, Jones knows some characteristics his future destination will possess. In the end though, he says it will just be one of those decisions which he will automatically know when he experiences it.
“It really comes down to me having great relationships with coaches,” Jones said. “I want a place that I think I can fit in well and play somewhat early. Really, I’ve just got to like it. It’s one of those things where I’ll just know when I see it.”
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