Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy is ripe with talent, and the rich got richer this week when four-star linebacker Mikel Jones joined the program after transferring from Hialeah (Fla.) Mater Academy.
Jones, a top Clemson target in the 2019 class, announced his decision to transfer on Tuesday and arrived at IMG on Wednesday morning. He started practice with the team on Thursday.
“I’m really excited,” Jones told The Clemson Insider. “I see my game improving a lot. Coming here will give me all the tools I need to be the best version of me possible. Coach G (Keith Goganious) has a lot of experience at the highest levels at linebacker. I feel like my technique will improve working with him and the other good linebackers around me. Also with the facilities and the professional trainers here, I see myself putting on good weight and also getting faster if I do everything I’m told.”
Clemson, of course, has a couple of 2018 commitments at IMG in four-star linebacker Mike Jones and five-star defensive end Xavier Thomas.
Mikel met the two future Tigers on Thursday, and they made a good first impression.
“I feel like they’re going to be great teammates as I build a relationship with them, and I know both of them can play really good,” Mikel said. “Mike knows I like Clemson a lot and was asking if I was thinking about committing.
”I didn’t answer yet, I just told him I plan on committing to some school around the spring.”
Mikel will play his first game with Mike and Thomas when IMG begins its season against Miami Gardens (Fla.) Carol City High this Friday.
Can Mikel envision himself suiting up with them at Clemson in the future, as well?
”Maybe,” he said. “That would be pretty dangerous.”
Clemson gave Mikel one of his earliest offers in May 2016. He made his first visit to Clemson for the Orange & White spring game in April and left impressed by the Tigers.
Mikel isn’t naming any favorites in his recruitment right now, but he is looking to cut down his list of offers in the not-too-distant future.
“After the season I will narrow my recruitment down to eight schools,” he said.
Clemson is a safe bet to make that list.
“Most definitely,” Mikel said.
Along with Clemson, Mikel (6-2, 205) has offers from Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Iowa State, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia among others.
Both Rivals and 247Sports rank him as a top-15 linebacker and top-250 overall prospect in the 2019 class.
He plans to enroll at his school of choice in January 2019.
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