HOUSTON | Chris Jones is sticking with Mississippi State.
The five-star defensive end from Houston, Miss., held a press conference at his school this morning to announce his decision between MSU and Ole Miss. The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder signed with State, to which he committed last June.
Sitting at a long table with some of his teammates, who were signing with junior colleges, Jones had both MSU and Ole Miss caps set in front of him. He quickly got to the point, saying, “It’s been a rough time. People wanting me to go to different places. I came to the decision where I plan to play my career at Mississippi State University.” He then donned the MSU cap.
Jones, who 247Sports.com rates as the No. 2 overall player in the country, saw his recruitment process go from quiet to frantic in the last month or so. He had a nice showing in the Under Armour All-America Game, and then a flood of offers came in. Jones visited Ole Miss two weekends ago then went back again last weekend, while also visiting MSU on Saturday.
“It’s a lot of stress off my heart, man, because it was stressful, man,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to be that stressful. I tried to handle it in the most appropriate way. It kind of got out of control, so I’m glad it’s finally over with.”
Although he never withdrew his MSU commitment, Jones added Ole Miss to the mix. He admitted to using deception in order to try and keep his Oxford visits secret, saying he’d received a lot of negative feedback from fans on both sides, including death threats.
Jones said he was actually “80 percent flipping (to Ole Miss) until this morning,” when he spoke with both MSU coach Dan Mullen and Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. He said he made up his mind about MSU around 6 a.m., three hours before his public announcement.
Why the 11th-hour change of heart? Jones didn’t go into any detail.
“I just felt like Mississippi State was the better program for me.”
Jones grew up an MSU fan, and he seemed to be as solid a commitment as there was. But the past few weeks, things got crazy, and there was plenty of uncertainty regarding his status with State. But his mother, Mary Woodhouse, said, “His heart has always been with Mississippi State.”
MSU offered Jones early, before he was considered a blue-chip prospect. But Jones said that isn’t why he stuck with MSU, pointing out that Ole Miss had initially recruited him when Houston Nutt was still head coach there and Jones was at Nettleton High.
“It wasn’t about who was first or how long it was. I just felt like Mississippi State was the better program for me. Even though Ole Miss do have a wonderful program, and I love coach Freeze to this day. I’m still going to call him after this day. He’s a nice coach.”
Jones said he wouldn’t have handled the recruiting process any differently if he’d had it to do over again.
“If you handle it in a crazy way, it can get crazy. So I tried to handle it in an appropriate way,” he said.
Jones was credited with 160 tackles, 45 tackles-for-loss and 14 sacks last season for Houston High School, which won its first ever playoff game. He was named the Daily Journal defensive player of the year.