****2014 Crown Jewel Countdown: #9 - S, Laurence "Hootie" Jones****
|A BIG bodied DB who played a ton of cornerback in high school, but projects as a safety at this level. He hips were fluid enough to play CB at a high level in high school. His turn and run ability stands out as much as his tackling does. He can cover a lot of area as well. The bodies and experience in front of him at safety doesn't bode well for him starting this year, but he'll definitely play on special teams because of his tackling ability. He'll also get plenty of garbage time (much like Mark Barron and Ha-Ha Clinton Dix before him) during his freshman year and he'll give us two great years as a starter before taking off for the next level.
|Big fan here from day one, and still so. Hootie has the background of a cornerback on the prep level, and for that reason he's ahead of most safety prospects in pass coverage. Fluid hip movement, very good range, and great overall athleticism.
Hootie is pretty physically similar to what Mark Barron was, and I think projects to that same basic style of player. He's not quite as long as Clark, but thicker and a very strong, physical kid who could be a real physical presence in the interior of the defensive backfield. I've got him a bit higher than RTO and WMack, but I'll be unabashed when I say that I see absolute star potential here. He could be a three-and-done type prospect, and may be our next great safety.
Obviously, there will be a bit of an acclimation process as he moves inside to safety, but he enrolled early and already has a big jump start, so I don't think there is any doubt that he's going to play this season on defense and on special teams. Depth may keep him off the field defensively in big situations this fall, but my money is on him claiming a starting job at safety next spring.
|More Mark Barron than HaHa, Hootie got a head start by enrolling in January. If he had enrolled in the fall, I would've hesitated putting him this high because I think there are a couple of others in this class who are better all-around football players. That said, he can cover some ground, and will likely need to get better in coverage before he take significant playing time, but most safeties do in a CNS defense. He can lay the wood, too.
|His commitment (and recommitment) pretty much painted Monroe, LA crimson. As a player, I like his size and athleticism. If he & Ronnie Clark can both come on strong and stick at safety for us, I'd really hate to be any receiver coming on a crossing pattern against Bama in the next few years. But Hootie is more than just a physical player, he is wildly athletic (he registered a 40 inch vertical at the Under Armour all-star game). He's also has a very high football IQ, as he's able to diagnose formations pre-snap and get a jump on plays. His ability to patrol the middle of the field could also free up the other safety to inch toward the line in run support. I like this kid a lot and think he'll be a star for us.
Something to keep an eye on though. Will he grow into a linebacker? He weighed in at 208 before his junior year. He came to Alabama in the spring weighing 215. And now he's listed on rolltide.com at 221 after the summer 4th qtr program. Either way, he'll be great wherever he plays.
Re: ****2014 Crown Jewel Countdown: #9 - S, Laurence "Hootie" Jones****
I was really happy we could pull all the Monroe kids. I wonder about Hootie's size too, but he's only a tad heavier than Barron was as a freshman. Next year will be a lot of new faces at safety, so I hope Ronnie and Hootie can get some quality experience on more than special teams, I.e. A lot of garbage time).