August 14, 2009

Vols beat Gators in South Fla. again

Ultimately, Tennessee got there first -- and that made a huge impression on a magnificent talent in the process.

After being the first program to offer four-star standout Delvin Jones, Tennessee received a commitment from the South Florida standout this evening. Jones picked the Vols over Alabama, Ole Miss, Southern Cal -- and perhaps most notably the Florida Gators.

"My mom and my coaches and I just felt comfortable with me going there," said the 6-foot-6-inch, 220-pounder. "I've been talking about Tennessee for a while, and they were my first offer.

"I was getting recruited a lot and getting a lot of attention, but I was like, I wanted offers bad. For them to be the first team, that means a lot."

Tennessee's South Florida recruiting assassin, Eddie Gran, also not surprisingly was a huge factor in the decision. And it was Gran's interest in Jones off the field that held considerable sway with Jones and his family.

"He's been good; he's been talking to my cousin, making sure my cousin stays on top of me about school work and stuff like that," said Jones, who indicated an overjoyed Gran "jumped and yelled" upon receiving his commitment call. "Making sure everything is right with my grades and stuff. It's been real nice him recruiting me.

"That means a lot. That makes me think that once I get up there, Coach Gran's going to take care of me and stuff like that. He's thinking about me more than just football."

Jones, who was a standout performer in February at the Badger Sport Skills Camp that attended, had 70 tackles and 20 sacks as a defensive end last season. He also had nine receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown; his undeniable versatility is such that his coaches at Miami Palmetto High School this year will use him at a variety of positions.

"I'm playing some of everything, a little bandit, D-end and receiver," said Jones, a Rivals250 member who is ranked the No. 17 athlete in the country. "I can play anything. Like I told Coach Gran, I'll play anything as long as I can get on the field. I'll even play kicker if I have to."

Jones' considerable skill set that allows him to play multiple positions and Tennessee's reconstruction project under first-year head coach Lane Kiffin also are major reasons the four-star talent with "30-40" offers ended his recruitment.

"They're rebuilding right now, and I can help them get to where they need to get," said Jones. "I've got so much speed and aggressiveness and power on defense, I can play pretty much anything on defense. Linebacker, safety, whatever.

"On offense, I'm big and fast. I use my body well."

Indeed, Jones has found defenders oftentimes yield to bump-and-run coverage because of his size.

"It's a huge mismatch," Jones said of his combination of size and speed. "Most of the time defenders play back because they're scared to jam me and stuff like that."

The four-star athlete Jones will take the SAT in November and then schedule his official visit to Knoxville after completing the college entrance exam.

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