October 26, 2011

Jones visits UA, names Tide his leader

Baltimore athlete Cyrus Jones took his official visit to the University of Alabama over the weekend, and the Rivals250 member liked what he saw, enough so that the Crimson Tide now leads for his services.

"It went great," Jones said. "I spent a lot of time with the coaches and players, and my parents got to see how it was down there.

"Alabama is my leader at this point right now, no questions about it. I just like the way things are run down there. Coach (Nick) Saban is, if not the best, one of the best coaches in the country. You're always going to play against top-notch competition every week. I've got a real good relationship with my recruiting coordinator, coach Sal Sunseri.

"My parents liked how academically it was set up with the tutors and everything. Basically, you have to try hard not to do well down there and thrive in the system. It was a great look at everything. I was really impressed."

In the spring, Jones visited Tuscaloosa for A-Day, but Saturday marked the first time he had been to Bryant-Denny Stadium for a real game. Despite the slow start, the Maryland native couldn't believe the atmosphere and wasn't surprised when Alabama ran away with it in the second half in a 37-6 win over Tennessee.

"It was a good atmosphere," Jones said. "The fans are crazy. It started off slow, so I was kind of nervous about that, but I knew they were going to come back, pick the tempo up a little bit in the second and dominate. It was a great game, and I was just glad to be there."

The 5-foot-11, 183-pound prospect kept a close eye on Crimson Tide wide receiver Marquis Maze throughout the game because that's the type of player he wants to be.

"I definitely kept my eye on Maze because he does some of the things that I'll be doing in the offense and on special teams, stuff like that," Jones said. "We kind of have a similar game, similar style, so I was definitely keeping my eye on him. He's the main person I watch, even on TV."

Previously, Alabama had targeted Jones as a defensive back, but over the weekend, Saban told him he could play any position he wants when he gets to UA, and the Rivals.com four-star recruit now has his sights set on playing offense.

"(Saban) basically said I was a playmaker on both sides of the ball, and I could play whatever I want," Jones said. "If I wanted to play receiver, I could play that. If I wanted to play defensive back, I could play that, but I'm coming on the offensive side of the ball if I commit there."

Alabama already has commitments from three wide receivers in the 2012 class, including four-star Chris Black, who was also on his official visit over the weekend. HBlack was excited about the chance to add another playmaker likes Jones to the class.

"Chris is going to being playing in the Under Armour game with me, so we were just getting familiar with each other," Jones said. "We talked about playing together and how we could do great things here together with him on one side and me on the other."

In addition to Alabama, Jones is also considering Auburn, Florida, Maryland, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. He has already visited Virginia Tech and the only other trip set up right now is an official visit to Auburn for the Iron Bowl next month.

The Gilman School star plans to make his decision at the Under Armour All-America game on Jan. 5, but he also said he could make it earlier if he knows where he wants to go.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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