High School: Neville High School (Monroe, LA)
40yrd time: N/A
Defending the pass has become one of the most pivotal keys to success in College Football since the translation of the legendary “Air Coryell” offense from Pro to collegiate. With Quarterbacks like Jameis Winston of Florida State, Bryce Petty of Baylor, and Brett Hundley of UCLA lurking in the Heisman race, it’s become near mandatory to have a secondary equipped to ground their aerial assaults.
The Tide have dominated at defending against the skies for the better part of Coach Saban’s tenure at the school, putting names like Clinton-Dix and Kirkpatrick on pro staffs on the regular. Now with a new generation of quarterback on the rise in the SEC, Saban and Alabama look to reload in the secondary with a new force at safety in 2014 recruit, Laurence Jones.
Hailing from Neville High School in Monroe, LA, Jones will attempt to be the replacement for Clinton-Dix, who now will suit up on Sundays for the Packers. Jones is built to split time between both corner and safety, though the coaching staff will most likely keep him at the latter position, with strong safety being the best fit for his play style. In his High School career, Jones amassed 106 total tackles, 13 interceptions, and two forced fumbles in 42 total games with the Varsity team. A two way player at Neville High, Jones also spent time in the backfield, totaling 342 yards and 6 scores in four years, with 178 yards coming in his junior year.
Jones possesses all the skills of the prototypical safety, including having the sheer size and power of the best in the league. He excels at reading the offense quickly pre-snap and dissecting where the QB is looking to move the ball. His tackling is on par with the best linebackers and linemen in the nation, let alone secondary men; Jones’ power is undeniable in taking down the ball carrier as if they were half his size.
Jones’ instincts in the passing game are amongst the best in nation. At times, it looks as if he materializes out of nowhere to make the play, be it a timely interception or a bone jarring hit designed to separate ball from man, an art often lost in today’s game. Watching tape of Jones play feels as though you’re watching a man among boys; it is blatantly obvious that he really is one of the smartest players on the field. His instinct and style are reminiscent of younger Brian Dawkins, beginning his career with the Eagles. Jones possesses tremendous upside, especially under the tutelage of one of the greatest defensive minds in the country.
The only area Jones will need to improve in is his closing speed in the pass. While lofting passes are no problem to catch up to, bullet passes over the middle that slip by linebackers might produce a small hiccup. With that area of his game worked on over the summer, Jones will soon find himself on highlight reels around the country for what a safety should be.