Columbia — It’s no secret that with the move to the Southeastern Conference, Missouri’s coaching staff has put an emphasis on recruiting the Atlanta area.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Now, it seems, the Tigers are beginning to see the fruits of their labor. The Tigers secured a commitment Tuesday from three-star athlete Donovahn Jones, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior at Dutchtown High School, located just south of Atlanta.
Dutchtown assistant coach Terry Herrod said Jones, who plays quarterback, cornerback and free safety, was recruited as a receiver to Missouri. Safeties coach Alex Grinch was his lead recruiter.
“Mizzou has done as good a job as anybody making their presence known here in metro Atlanta,” Herrod said. “Coach Grinch, who recruits this area, has been on the prowl.”
Herrod said Jones – who has run a hand-timed 4.49 40-yard dash and has some ups, as this and this would attest – chose Missouri over nearly 20 Division I schools, including Arkansas, Minnesota, Kentucky and South Florida. He accumulated over 1,700 yards of total offense last season for Dutchtown, which went 5-5 running a double-wing offense.
“If he played in a wide-open scheme, there’s no telling how many yards he’s accumulate,” Herrod said. “He’s most dangerous in space with the ball in his hands. You look at his highlight tape, you’ll see a playmaker.”
Herrod said Jones took an unofficial visit to Missouri this summer and loved it so much he wanted to commit then, adding that he’s built a strong relationship with Grinch and receivers coach Andy Hill.
Jones is also a fan of former Missouri star Jeremy Maclin, now of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, and was impressed by the way Missouri played in its 41-20 loss to Georgia in the Tigers’ SEC debut.
“He loved what he saw on Saturday,” Herrod said.
Herrod describes Jones as a talented, humble kid that Missouri’s coaches will never have to worry about getting in trouble. When he was in the ninth grade, he told Herrod – without a hint of arrogance – that he was going to sign an SEC-level scholarship one day.
“He started as a tenth grader on a team that had nine senior starters on defense, and he didn’t say ten words the time he was back there,” Herrod said. “He never talked. He made all these plays but he knew his place. He’s just a very perceptive young man with an old-man soul.”
Herrod said Georgia, Auburn, Georgia Tech and Florida were aware of him, but never offered. Georgia has the luxury of being picky when it comes to choosing local kids, while Georgia Tech recruits to its option-heavy offense, which Herrod said Jones had no interest in playing in.
“He doesn’t want to be an option QB, and he didn’t want to go where they throw 10 times a game,” Herrod said.
Given Georgia’s pickiness and Georgia Tech’s unique offense, Herrod said this gives schools like Missouri plenty of opportunities to make in-roads in a state with a wealth of talent.
So while Jones may be the first player from the state of Georgia to pick the Tigers since their move to the SEC, Herrod is confident he won’t be the last.
“They’ve been relentless in terms of what they’re doing – they’ve got their flag down here in metro Atlanta, and they’re going to get more,” Herrod said. “Every kid that grows up down here wants to play in the SEC…and the flight from Atlanta to K.C., St. Louis, is not a bad one. We’re excited about it.”
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