Mississippi State had a successful junior day two weeks ago that opened many eyes across the state and southeast. They saw that junior day continue to pay dividends on Monday when Louisville (Miss.) four-star wide receiver Dontea Jones committed to the Bulldogs.
"Mississippi State is a great program and I thought I should be a part of it," Jones said of his decision. "The University is close to home being just 30 miles away. I can go right down the road when I get my driver's license and my mom won't have to go across the country to see me play."
Proximity to home wasn't the ultimate selling point for MSU, though it helped. The difference, in the end, was the MSU coaches' commitment to academics and specifically to making sure that Jones was committed to academics.
"I started talking to them about academics a few weeks ago and we really broke it down when I went to junior day," Jones said. "After talking to the coaches and seeing the campus, I really wanted to be a part of it. I think I have a chance to come in and play early at wide receiver and that's something that I'll have to work hard to do."
Jones built a relationship with safeties coach Tony Hughes in the last few months. The difference in his recruitment boiled down to someone that wanted the best for him outside of football. Hughes fit that mold.
"He really started a relationship with me and told me that I could come in and help the team," Jones said. "But the thing that impressed me is we sat down and talked about academics before football. Academics are really important to me and I want to make sure that I have my education. Coach Hughes told me that I would get that at Mississippi State."
"I'm going to have to say they started to make a move for me the middle of last month," Jones said of the emergence of MSU. "Coach Hughes and Coach Mullen came in and sat down with my coaches and then my coaches sat down with me and went over my transcripts and what I have to do. They started to open my eyes."
Ole Miss was a major player early in the recruitment of Jones and have been even until now. The first to offer the Rivals 250 receiver, the Rebels made an impression on Jones that has stuck. However, Jones sees playing time options increased at MSU.
"Ole miss showed me a lot of love," Jones said of the other in-state team. "They gave me my first offer. I want to go against some great people and I could do that at either school, but I felt like I would have to wait two or three years to play up there because of the great players they have. They have a great coaching staff and great coaches. They would have been a great school but I just fit better at MSU."
"MSU coaches told me they'll use me how my coaches do in high school," Jones said. "I can be a threat on the linebackers because of my speed and size and I'll be going to work on the outside. I have to come in and work hard to earn my spot. State has some great receivers and there's not just a starting job waiting on me. I have to earn it."
With the decision behind him and the books in front of him, Jones now has some things he wants to focus on to become a better player.
"I want to improve my 40 time and my fundamentals," Jones said. "I'm going to try to come in and play harder than I ever have at Mississippi State. I'll be going against some great athletes and the cornerbacks will almost be the same size as I am. It's going to be hard work but I'm ready for the challenge."
Jones is looking forward to making it to campus this weekend for another junior day as he hopes to let his mother get the tour of the facilities and meet the coaches.
The four-star receiver is MSU's second four-star of the 2015 class and the ninth commit. He is the seventh player from the state of Mississippi to verbal to MSU.