Alabama Football Recruiting: Why Walker Jones Is Hidden Gem of Tide's 2013 Class
When looking at Alabama's list of recruits, you come to the realization that Nick Saban and his staff put together arguably the best 2013 recruiting class. In fact, 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals all gave the Tide the No. 1 class, while Scout rated them No. 3 behind Ohio State and Michigan.
Regardless of where you think the class belongs, there is no arguing the fact it is full of elite talent. Players like Derrick Henry, O.J. Howard and Reuben Foster have all stolen the headlines and are expected to be impact players right away.
But recruiting classes aren't all about the big names the staff is able to convince to play for their school. Not every productive football player you see play on Saturdays had more than 3-stars next to his name when coming out of high school.
A lot of the times, the kid who went unnoticed and worked his tail off ends up becoming one of the more successful players in the class.
With that in mind, meet Walker Jones.
Only a 3-star player by most recruiting services, Jones hasn't been mentioned much and doesn't have the same expectations that a lot of his elite friends have been given. He is expected to redshirt next season, and he will be buried on the depth chart at the linebacker position once he does have a chance to see the field in 2014.
However, Jones has a bunch of upside and will become a player that Alabama fans soon recognize. For one, he happens to be the younger brother of former Alabama standouts Harrison and Barrett Jones.
With good football genes running in his blood, this unappreciated recruit is already ahead of the ball game and has many things going for him.
But most importantly, Jones is a tough-nosed player who is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed and help the team win. There is a reason why Saban offered him a scholarship, and it further explains why other SEC schools such as Arkansas, Mississippi and Vanderbilt were all pushing hard for Jones.
He is a physical and nasty guy who will fit right in at Alabama and will be surrounded with other players just like him.
As far as his skill set is concerned, Jones has the ability to play the linebacker or running back position. With the depth in the backfield already on overload, Jones could also see time at H-back, taking on a similar role to the one Brad Smelley had in his years with the program.
Blocking, picking up those tough yards in short yardage situations and occasionally catching the ball out of the backfield are things Jones can do extremely well.
If he stays at linebacker, Jones has already shown above-average athleticism and enough lateral quickness to be an effective defensive player. He is able to shed blocks, has great instincts and, much like his brother Barrett, displays a high football IQ. He is terrific in run support and is a sure tackler, which, at the very least, makes him a valuable player on special teams.
Jones isn't going to be given anything and he will have to earn every snap at Alabama. But he gives the team options on either side of the ball and he is a tough kid who works hard on and off the field.
Much like his brothers, Jones fits in with the Alabama culture and will soon prove why he is the hidden gem of the 2013 recruiting class for the Crimson Tide.
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