Patterson wide receiver Mykel Jones couldn’t think of a better place to kick off his official visits tour than at Alabama, the recently crowned national champions.
That’s not to suggest Jones — a four-star prospect rated among the nation’s top 45 wide receivers — is ready to end his recruiting process when his official visit with the Crimson Tide ends this weekend.
“I’m wide open at this point,” Jones said. “I think it will be a great time. They’re coming off a national championship. It’s going to be pretty wired up there.”
Jones will also visit Ole Miss and Tennessee the following two weekends with a final decision expected on national signing day — Feb. 3.
“I feel like it’s the time I’ve been waiting for,” Jones said. “It came really fast, but I’m ready to get it over with so I can start grinding and get back at it. I want to go into one of these programs where I’m going to help them out immediately. I’m ready to get it done.”
Jones has covered plenty of ground to reach his position as one of the nation’s top receivers.
The 6-foot, 185-pounder put together two solid seasons, including 32 catches for 606 yards and eight TDs in 2014, before suffering a torn ACL 10 months ago — a non-contact injury during a playoff game with Patterson’s basketball team.
“I was driving to the goal, went up to explode and my leg gave out,” Jones said. “I was also extremely tired, so that played a part.”
That setback threatened to derail his hopes and dreams, but Jones’ determined effort led to a full recovery in time to step on the field Oct. 8 and score two touchdowns in a 55-7 win over Berwick.
Jones went on to catch 27 passes for 500 yards and seven TDs, helping the Lumberjacks to a 9-3 record that included the District 8-3A championship and a second-round appearance in the Class 3A state playoffs.
“For the most part it humbled me throughout the whole process,” Jones said of the injury. “I just thought of it as an obstacle. It helped me to work harder and refocus on what’s really important and why I’m here. It helped my game, to work harder at the little things and learn how my body works.”
Jones, who accumulated 40 scholarship offers, said he never lost faith he would work his way back to the playing field. One of the first head coaches to call and offer support was Alabama’s Nick Saban.
“That was one of the greatest moments I’ve had in the process,” he said. “When a person calls to encourage you, there’s no choice but to overcome and get better.
“It was all in God’s plan. I felt like all of this was meant to happen, and I did what I had to do. I worked hard this summer with my physical therapist and got the job done.”
Because of his rehabilitation during the summer, Jones didn’t participate in any camps to further enhance his game or take unofficial visits when prospects often develop relationships with the head coaches or assistants recruiting them.
Jones already has built-in ties to Alabama where former Patterson wide receiver Daylon Charlot was a redshirt freshman this past year and to Ole Miss where quarterback and close friend Shea Patterson is an early enrollee.
“It will be more of my decision,” said Jones, who will be accompanied by his parents on all three visits. “It’s mostly going to be about education because that’s always first for me. From the football aspect, I want a fair shot. I want an opportunity to help out the team.”