January 17, 2008

Oregon sitting pretty after visit

Fresh off his standout performance at the Offense-Defense Bowl in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Compton, Calif., defensive end Datone Jones made a trip up to Oregon this past weekend for an official visit. The 6-4, 240-pound Jones is a UCLA commitment, but he's considering Oregon and others in the last weeks before Signing Day.

"The school and all that did live up to expectations. They had it going on down there," said Jones. "All of it attracted me. I went and saw Autzen Stadium and thought, 'Man, this stadium is wild.'"

Jones was one of two UCLA commitments taking an official visit to Oregon this last weekend, but while he knew several of his fellow recruits, he wanted to spend most of the time with the guys on the team.

"I hung out with the recruits, but I hung out with the players most of the time. A lot of people were from SoCal," Jones noted. "My host was Marvin Johnson and I hung out with basically the whole team. One night I went to Dennis Dixon's party. It was his birthday so we went to a Chinese restaurant and were just chilling there. I met everybody - Jonathan Stewart, Ed Dickson… It felt like home."

Oregon's primary contact with Jones throughout the recruiting process has been linebackers coach Don Pellum, but the trip to Eugene allowed him to get acclimated with the other members of the Oregon coaching staff.

"Really, I spent a lot of time with all of the defensive staff and I spent a little time with the head coach, Mike Belotti," said Jones. "I talked with the defensive coordinator and what I like about him is he told me all the bad stuff about me before he told me all the good stuff. When you go anywhere else, the coaches will tell you all the good stuff you want to hear and won't tell you any bad stuff. That's a trustworthy coach and I can play for a coach like that."

When Jones made his commitment to UCLA last spring, Karl Dorrell was in charge of the Bruins' program, but his dismissal last month gave Jones reason to pause and consider his options. One of those options was obviously Oregon and so far they seemed to have made the most of their opportunity.

"They are sitting pretty. They did a good job to convince me to come there," said Jones. "I'm still [a UCLA commit]. As a matter of fact, I'm taking my trip up there this week."

Jones took his first official visit of the process to Colorado back on Dec. 7. He was scheduled to see Arizona State this coming weekend and Notre Dame on Jan. 25, but has decided to make his visit to UCLA this weekend and will not go anywhere on Jan. 25, leaving Feb. 1 as his final weekend to take an official visit.

"On the 25th, I can't go to that one. I'll move it around," Jones added. "I've got to decide between Notre Dame and Arizona State for that last one."

Though still considering himself a Bruin commit, Jones has three weeks to decide if he will stay with new UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisal and his staff or choose one of the other schools on his list.

"As a matter of fact, I've been thinking about that and it's been killing me - eating my mind up," Jones said. "Everyday I try to think of it, but I don't have an answer yet. Whatever sign that hits me, that's what I am going to decide on."

Compton finished the season with an 8-3 record and Jones contributed to the effort with 126 tackles, 43 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 17 player in the state of California, the No. 7 strongside defensive end and a four-star prospect.

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