July 6, 2010

Tupelo defensive lineman plans to stay in-state

Earlier this summer, P.J. Jones was listing Alabama as a leader and offers from out-of-state programs such as Arkansas, Michigan, Tennessee and UCLA had his interest piqued.

Some two months later, with his senior season quickly approaching, the three-star defensive lineman from Tupelo, Miss., has decided that he doesn't need to leave the Magnolia State to achieve his goals.

On Tuesday, Jones said he'll sign with either Ole Miss or Mississippi State in February, and one of those Egg Bowl rivals has a lead.

"Ole Miss is in the lead right now," said Jones, who will attend the Rebels' one-day senior camp on July 17 in Oxford. "I just like the way they play defense, the way they attack. (Ole Miss defensive coordinator) Coach (Tyrone) Nix has coached great defensive linemen and they have a lot graduating next year off their defensive line. If I come in and work hard, I'd have a chance to play early. And they have a good school."

Mississippi State, Jones said, "is not too far behind. I love State. (MSU) Coach (Dan) Mullen is a player's coach and the defensive line coach (Chris Wilson) did some really good things at Oklahoma and I'd like to learn from him."

Jones, a 6-foot-2, 260-pounder who is hoping to remain at defensive end a the collegiate level, said it will come down to fit.

"Which one is the best fit is probably where I'll end up," Jones said. "I kind of know where I'm going."

Jones said the decision to remain in his native Mississippi was one that came easily.

"I just grew up with a lot of guys in Mississippi who have gone to Ole Miss or State," Jones said. "I like to have players around me who I played with before."

Jones said he's discussed recruiting with some other high-profile Mississippians, including four-star wide receivers Nickalos Brassell and Tobias Singleton.

"I know Nick will stay in-state," Jones said. "We talk a lot. I think Tobias will stay in-state, too. …It's one thing to play great schools like South Panola (Brassell) and Madison Central (Singleton). It's another thing to take our games to the next level and play together. We played against each other for years. I'd like to have the chance to play with them."

Jones said he plans to wait until at least mid-season to announce his decision. In the meantime, he's focused on his game and Tupelo's 2010 campaign. Jones, who has a 3.3 grade-point average, said he's trying to slim down to 255 pounds.

"I want to play end and not get moved to tackle," Jones said, acknowledging that his body might defy his wishes. "I could be a 3-4 end. It depends. I believe I could play end. I have the will and the heart."

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