Three-star wide receiver JJ Jones' commitment to North Carolina shines throughout his social media. With his announcement in late May to commit to the university, there hasn't been a moment where the excitement and dedication wavered.
The press ruined his moment to announce, but adjusting to the adversity, Jones still had the opportunity that most kids wait their entire lives for. The 6-foot 3 and 190 pounds WR is ranked No. 1 in his state and No. 49 in his position for the class of 2021.
As a junior at Myrtle Beach high school, Jones recorded 16 touchdowns and 707 receiving yards despite missing four games. Jones, a dual-athlete, received his offer from Carolina in October 2019 and soon after was able to visit during Junior Day, January 2020.
His list of schools was nothing short of stellar, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi State were in the running for the receiver. Still, it was the family dynamic that appealed to Jones in his decision of North Carolina.
"Definitely the family environment. UNC seems like a place that when you go there, you're going to feel loved while you're there, after you graduate, and coming back to seeing games later in your life. You're always going to feel love there. The coaching staff seems very approachable. North Carolina's a basketball kind of state. Just the fact that I went to a football game, and those fans, they seem so bought into that program. You can just tell that this football team is on the ride."
In his exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated, Jones reiterated the importance of family, uniquely his own. Along with his parents, he is the youngest of two older siblings; Jones discussed his family's difficult decisions in pursuit of his football career.
"I really take pride in my family. Not a lot of people talk about their family, but that's something I take pride in. My family's been there for me since day one. My parents... We sold our house to transfer to a new school, and that was probably one of the best decisions of my life. It really showed how much they believe me and the sacrifice they made for me. To give up a house we lived in our whole life to move into a new house for me to go to a new school is just... I just can't thank them enough."
Despite being recruited by his home state, the South Carolina native's relationship with Coach Lonnie Galloway wasn't something that could be replicated anywhere else. Galloway, the wide receivers coach, took time to know Jones beyond his athletic ability; that's all it took for Jones to realize that North Carolina viewed him as more than an athlete.
"He wants to know me more as a person. Not recruit me as a football player, but just get to know me. I was like, 'Look, Coach. You've recruited me hard enough. I understand. You ain't got nothing else to sell me.' I wanted to find a coach who could really talk to me and not put the recruiting BS out there."
Due to COVID-19, high schoolers all over the country are re-evaluating the decision to stay their full senior year. Most state high school associations have either postponed the season and or decided to cancel altogether. August 9th, Jones announced on his social media to early enroll at UNC.
"You're going to get a guy who's going to give his 110% every day, who's never going to skip a rep, slack in practice, stuff like that. Probably something I bring to the field is just my catch radius and probably just my size advantage over a lot of corners, a lot of DBs because I mean, you seeing most DBs are under 6'0" I mean even if they are 6'2", 6'3", I feel like I have more of an advantage. When they say there's 50/50 balls, I don't see a 50/50; In my eyes, I see a 90/10."
Tar Heels are currently ranked No. 9 nationally and No. 2 in the ACC. New freshman, Tony Grimes, reclassification bumped the Heels down a few slots, along with Jared Wilson flipping to Georgia in July.
Spring 2021 will host a ton of new faces due to high school football cancellation. The notion should excite fans for Spring football and the continued growth of Carolina football under Mack Brown.
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