April 20, 2011

Elite athlete has Tide on top after visit

Baltimore athlete Cyrus Jones may have traveled the longest distance of any prospect to get to Tuscaloosa for A-Day, but the trip was well worth it as Jones now has a new school at the top of his list.

"Alabama is definitely at the top right now," Jones said. "I haven't been to too many places yet, so they're kind of the marking point for what I'm trying to base everybody off of. They were the best I've seen so far."

For Jones, it was the first time he had been to Tuscaloosa and even though it's a far cry from his hometown of Baltimore, he enjoyed the atmosphere and the vibe he got from UA.

"The visit was great," Jones said. "It definitely exceeded my expectations even though my expectations were high already. It was just a good atmosphere when I went down there. Everybody showed love. I got a great vibe from the coaching staff and the players that we were around. It was just so great to be down there and get to see what Alabama was really like."

Jones and his high school teammate, Ryan Gaia, arrived late Thursday night and spent all day Friday touring the city and campus, seeing everything Alabama has to offer.

"I liked that everything was right there," Jones said. "You didn't really have to walk too far to get to anywhere. Everything was jam-packed, right in the heart of campus.

"The people down there are definitely all about Alabama football and they love the football players from what I saw. It was a great feeling to feel like you're wanted somewhere."

On Saturday, Jones took in all of the A-Day festivities from tailgating on the Quad, to the unveiling of head coach Nick Saban's statue, to the spring game itself. More than anything, he couldn't believe the atmosphere and the Alabama fan base.

"It was crazy," Jones said. "You're not going to see too many places where you get close to 100,00 people for a spring game. It was definitely a crazy atmosphere from the start to the finish, from Coach (Nick) Saban's statue getting unraveled to the end of the game."

During his visit, the 5-foot-11, 192-pound speedster met with Coach Saban, who indicated that he wants Jones to play cornerback if he were to come to Alabama.

Last year at the Gilman School, Jones played nearly every skilled position on offense and finished with 1,300 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns. He also had 35 tackles and five interceptions as a cornerback.The chance to play in the secondary for Nick Saban excites him.

"It would be a great honor to play for a guy like that," Jones said. "Obviously, he's got a great reputation with winning. Everywhere he's been, he's won.

"Of course, he has a great reputation with the development of defensive backs and preparing them for the next level. To play defensive back for him at Alabama in a pro-style system like that would definitely get me prepared for the next level."

In addition to Alabama, Jones listed Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and West Virginia as his top schools and said each school has plans to utilize him differently. What position he wants to play at the next level may ultimately determine where he goes to school.

"I'm up in the air right now," Jones said. "I'm trying to decide what exactly I want to play. Some schools have given me the option and some schools have told me where they want me to play either on offense or defense. I'm just trying to weigh my options, see where I think I can exceed at the best and take it from there."

Jones is in the process of setting up his next visit to Miami and although Alabama is on top, he doesn't have any plans to make a decision until he's sure of where he wants to go.

"I'm not trying to commit early, but I'm not going to try and prolong it out either," Jones said. "I'm just going to try and wait and weigh my options, and when I know I'm 100 percent sure, that's when I'm going to pull the trigger."

Reach Greg Ostendorf at [email protected]

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