J.J. Jones wanted to prove to his Myrtle Beach teammates that Seahawk football — and not his high-profile recruiting process — was priority No. 1 in 2020.
He backed it up on Thursday by telling MyHorryNews.com that he has verbally committed to the University of North Carolina.
The Tar Heels and head coach Mack Brown have done their best to lock down their home state. Still, they had no problem offering him a scholarship in October and then making trips just across the border to sell the Myrtle Beach receiver hard. Jones will be able to fully commit in December during the early signing period.
“If you look at this class, all the commits from the 2021 class, it’s mostly [players from the state of] North Carolina,” Jones said Thursday. “But just because I’m an out-of-state guy, that doesn’t mean they haven’t still shown me the same love.
“This is a national championship class. As a receiver, you want to go somewhere where you get the ball. There’s no place that can compare with North Carolina.”
All told, Jones had more than 30 NCAA Division-I offers, mostly from Power Five programs. Ultimately, he chose UNC over his other four finalists - South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi State.
Jones, ranked as the top rising senior receiver in the state of South Carolina and currently a four-star prospect from 247Sports.com, will be the 11th such rated player committed to the Tar Heels from his class. Brown and his staff’s recruiting prowess has jumped North Carolina to the No. 4 spot nationally for that year, again according to 247.
Jones’ verbal commitment should bolster that ranking.
As a junior last fall, he recorded 44 receptions, 708 yards and 15 touchdowns — all team highs — despite having to sit out one game while his transfer from Socastee was cleared and then two more late in the regular season due to injury. He helped the Seahawks to the Class 4A state championship game, where they lost to Wren.
Nearly all of that playoff run came without star quarterback and current Gamecock Luke Doty, who suffered an injury to his throwing hand in the first round. In his place others had to step up their own performances.
During that time, head coach Mickey Wilson saw a transformation in Jones.
“He grew up pretty quickly once he started playing for us,” Wilson said. “He’s been recruited as much as any kid we’ve had at Myrtle Beach. The neat thing about it, the scary thing about it, was that last year was J.J.’s first full season at receiver. His upside is through the roof. He is just now figuring out how to play the wide receiver position. That is scary.”
Although what high school football in South Carolina will look like this fall is uncertain, opposing coaches are already quite knowledgable about what they’ll be facing when they line up against the Seahawks. Jones and rising junior Adam Randall will form arguably the top one-two receiver punch in the state. Randall also holds a four-star rating in the recruiting circuits and has his fair share of Power Five offers.
As for Jones, he’s ready to move on to the final stage of his high school playing career without being worried about what’s in the future.
His commitment wraps up a hectic 12-month span which started with his very public transfer to Myrtle Beach last spring, his first major offer last summer and then a frenetic scholarship-grabbing pace after he started donning the Seahawk uniform.
“Every kid wants to live it,” Jones said of the last year. “There were three parts to it. The first part was wanting to be wanted. It was fun. Then, the second part, I was getting really overwhelmed. Everyone was texting me and I just wanted to be a kid. Now, the third part, it’s realizing that I had to go through that. That’s recruiting.”
And now, with one more shot at it, his goals are a little more singular.
“I wanted to show my teammates that I’m not worried about my recruiting process,” he said. “My mindset is focused on this team, being a captain on this team and getting back to Williams-Brice Stadium.”