BRADENTON, Fla. — No member of Clemson’s 2018 class works harder than Mike Jones does to help the Tigers bring talent on board. Rock solid on his commitment, Jones takes pride in being the recruiter as opposed to the recruited and stays in the ear of some of the nation’s top prospects.
After all, Jones is the founding father of Clemson’s 2018 class. He became the class’s first commitment when he gave his pledge in the summer of 2016 following the Dabo Swinney Camp, and he wants to see the class reach its potential of being historically good.
While Jones has played a role in helping Clemson land a number of targets, his biggest prize is undoubtedly his teammate at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, five-star defensive end Xavier Thomas.
Asked if he deserves the credit for Thomas’s commitment, Jones tipped his cap to Clemson’s coaching staff. But then he coyly responded that yes, in fact he does.
“It depends whose eye you’re looking from,” Jones said in an exclusive interview with TCI during the first stop on our Tour of Champions at IMG Academy. “The staff, they do a great job. They’re amazing. I’m so glad they gave me the opportunity to be a Tiger.”
“But I got XT,” Jones added as he looked into the camera with his trademark smile. “I got XT.”
In all seriousness regardless of how you look at it, Jones helped the Tigers get Thomas.
Jones met Thomas in January at the Future 50 camp in Orlando, Fla., and he forged a close relationship with him all the while making his pitch for Clemson.
So, what is his sales pitch for Clemson to prospects like Thomas?
“You’re playing for one of the best defensive coordinators in the country,” Jones said. “Clemson’s defense has been outstanding for years and years. We just won a national championship. We have the best facilities. We’re playing for a great head coach, a great family guy, and you’re just surrounded in people who are invested in your life, more as a person than just a football player.”
Thomas, of course, transferred from Wilson High (Florence, S.C.) to IMG Academy for his senior season. Having spent a lot of time with Jones, the two have developed a strong bond.
“He’s become one of my brothers over the last few months,” Jones said. “I met him in January at the Future 50, and being down here, he’s become one of my brothers, one of the guys I trust. If I need anything or he needs anything, I know he would come to me and I would go to him.”
Now, the Clemson commits will begin their final season before Clemson together on Friday night when IMG plays Carol City (Miami Gardens, Fla.).
Thomas will be getting after the passer up front, while Jones will be behind him anchoring the linebacker corps.
“You’re going to see a ferocious, super-fast, freaky defense,” Jones said. “Everybody loves to get to the ball and play fast.”
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