Plenty of prospects, some of them high-profile, others under-the-radar, have come and gone in the past decade or so, since the inception of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl. Still, the talent level across the board on the national scene has been about as good as it gets.
Things don’t figure to change anytime soon, as the hype continues to build for this year’s games: Dec. 16 and Jan. 20 at Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, Jan. 6 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium and Jan. 13 at Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes Benz Stadium.
To gain a better understanding about the rapidly growing direction of things, perhaps now it’s best to take some time to reflect on the humble beginnings. Therefore, moving forward, the plan is to more closely examine the brand’s many alumni from all over the country.
Tony Jones from IMG Academy (FL) is the topic. A member of the Class of 2016, he first opened eyes at the brand’s All-American Combine (Southeast Regional). An invite followed to the game at Raymond James Stadium as North defeated South, 35-0.
The plan was for him to line up alongside Arizona commit J.J. Taylor, West Virginia commit Reese Donahue, Minnesota commit Conner Olson, Clemson commit Zerrick Cooper, Oregon State commit Artavis Pierce and Nebraska commit Jack Stoll, among others.
It wasn’t meant to be, however. Not necessarily a bad thing, truth be told, as recruiting took off. Jones was a hot commodity. With double-digit offers to essentially start, and nearly 20-plus at the end, the focus turned toward the future and playing at the next level.
Jones landed in South Bend (IN). The rest, as they so often say, is history. The 5-foot-11 and 200-pound senior running back for Notre Dame will add another chapter in his proverbial book against Bowling Green on Oct. 5 in a conconference game at 7 p.m. (EST).
This season, in fact, he’s been on a roll. Last week, Jones finished with 131 rushing yards on 18 carries with three touchdowns in a 35-20 nonconference victory over Virginia. On the Doak Walker Award Watch List, the effort should not come as a major surprise to anyone.
Having patiently waited for his opportunity as an underclassman, he was primed for a breakout campaign. As a junior, Jones ended up with 549 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. As a sophomore, his totals included 244 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.
Up next, an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine is likely. A selection in the NFL Draft is within reason, too. To think, a short time ago, his path essentially started with the brand’s All-American Combine in Florida and an invite to the All-American Bowl in the Sunshine State.