LITHONIA — DawgNation will be in Texas for the next week covering QB Carson Beck at the Elite 11 and then the five other UGA commitments (plus a legion of top targets) at The Opening. It will be odd watching the nation’s top OLs at work without seeing 5-star Georgia pledge Broderick Jones there, too.
Jones was the first 5-star to commit to the class well over a year ago. He still rates as the second-highest commitment in the class. The Lithonia High rising senior is the nation’s No. 2 OT for the 247Sports Composite ratings. It also slots him as the nation’s No. 20 overall prospect.
That’s pretty sporty for a guy who skipped all the mid-winter and spring evaluation camps.
But he’s not out there representing the program like other commits in the class. There is a reason for that.
The last time he visited Georgia, he told Lithonia offensive line coach Robert “Ham” Hamler something that continues to stick out.
“I’m good,” he said to Hamler. “That’s it for me. I don’t want to come back here until I can play.”
Jones wasn’t at G-Day. Or the scavenger hunt. But that “I’m good” statement helps place all of that into context.
He does love the fit at Georgia. The family feels that are always there with the coaching staff help, too.
Those visits tease him. They can be equated to putting the keys to a shiny new red sportscar in front of a 17-year old and telling him it is theirs. It was the one they wanted, too.
But the stipulation there is that teen cannot drive it until their next birthday. That is what this sounds and feels like.
“I’m still pretty solid to Georgia with all of that,” Jones said. “I really like the offensive line coach. I know [Sam Pittman] can get it done and he can get me to the next level and things of that nature.”
Jones said he does want to take all five of his officials. Auburn still reaches out to him as much as any school here as well.
Covering his recruiting feels like what things might have been like before social media.
That’s because Jones is his own man in this class. He doesn’t do camps. He is not going to be seen on a lot of visits or tweets.
“I’m really not into those camps and all that,” Jones said. “I’m not into it like that … I’m just not all into the hype. The social media type of guy. I’m just here for the work and to get it done. To get things done. To track down my goals. I’ve got business to take care of and I’ve got a lot to work to do to get there.”
Jones did say that he does text weekly with Pittman on the Georgia staff.
What the 2019 model Broderick Jones looks like right now
This is a week where the nation’s elite will go at in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts. They will do so at the training camp home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
But it will be hard not to think of what Jones did this week at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp in Dekalb County. The Lithonia staff said that Jones logged more than 500 snaps in that camp. He was beaten on no more than one or two occasions.
He stayed in the game after a slight injury on one of those.
“I just want to be as proficient at what I can do as possible,” he said. “As effective as possible. To help my teammates get right and motivate them and keep them on track.”
There was a snap where he lost his helmet and still kept walloping his man. That play was just one of scores of dominating blocks on future Saturday players. He even gave one defender an Uber ride to the track circling the turf fields at James R. Hallford Stadium in Clarkston.
“It has been a lot of work but he’s finally becoming that dominating guy and that leadership guy we’ve been wanting to see out of him for his senior year,” Hamler said.
His Lithonia Bulldogs clashed with programs like Mays and Westlake, among others. Jones stood out in those simulated games against schools. Some of those were against bigger schools from higher classifications.
That FCA camp was real football with teams running actual plays against one another. It was everything a real scrimmage would be minus the special teams. These teams were in full pads from the waist up.
“I can feel myself improving in many different ways,” Jones said. “My weakest spot was the inside rush and I fixed that like one hundred percent. That was my only downfall or weakness with my competition. The inside moves. But I fixed that all the way.”
Broderick Jones is getting bigger but staying lean
His body is also changing. His torso and lower body are picking up tone and definition.
The 2018 scouting snapshot had him as the 5-star who weighed around 275 pounds but carried it like it was 250. Tops. He was that lean and athletic.
Jones is now right at 300 pounds and still looks like he is 275. The projection here with Jones for the 2020 season is amplified by the fact he will enroll early in January. That’s the plan.
“His body has changed,” Lithonia coach Marcus Jelks said. “Dramatically. Tremendously. He’s much leaner now, better conditioned and just moves much better than he did last year.”
Jones, much like Andrew Thomas in the 2017 class, looks like he can play right away. His feet and athleticism will trend toward the LT spot. It would be no shock to see UGA lose both of its starting tackles and maybe both starting guards after the 2019 season to the NFL.
Pittman is preparing for that contingency with the 2020 class. Jones is one of three elite tackles on the board. Georgia’s class rates No. 4 class in the nation on the 247Sports Team Composite rankings.
Jones still rates the highest. With good reason.
“He is a true athlete at tackle,” Jelks said. “A natural athlete. He is able to pretty much technically stop any kind of defensive move. He has those gifts naturally.”
The Lithonia staff has said that he is a good kid for years now. Emphasis on the word “kid” there. He is a jovial sort despite the fact he draws a lot of eyeballs on a field given his size and stature.
But he’s changing that up somewhat for 2019. He is finishing more of his blocks now.
“He’s a nice guy but on the field, he is getting after it, though,” Jelks said. “We try to push him. To push him to be his best.”
His mindset toward his future is clear. He knows he will have to live in the weight room to play on Saturdays.
“I just know I will have to go in and work and work and work,” Jones said. “I have to go in and set my mind on working. Working hard to get to my goals.”
Which schools are trying to flip Broderick Jones?
As stated earlier, Auburn is digging in here. He has even visited that school. Jones also brought up he has built a relationship of some merit with Auburn tight ends/H-back coach Larry Porter, too.
When he brings up other schools that might get an official, he will also list Illinois, Miami and South Carolina.
A lot of schools are leery of coming into Georgia and trying to take a 5-star tackle away from Pittman. Some will not even try. Auburn is trying here, though.
But Jones said something else that explains the degree of difficulty there. It came up while discussing why he wants to graduate early.
“To get a head start,” Jones said. “Because I know the left tackle [Andrew] Thomas is on schedule to leave early and get drafted and move on to the NFL. I’m ready to be enrolled in college and get that first semester over and get that first semester of credits.”
“That way if the same thing might come my way and I could leave early for the NFL, then I will be able to have that degree of my own in hand if I wanted to go early, too.”
[Disclaimer: Intelligent and well-meaning readers will wonder if Mr. Jones is getting ahead of himself. That is logical, but they might also consider how well this young man defuses the nation’s top high school pass rushers, too. He is also discussing leaving early with a degree in hand. It appears to be a balanced outlook on his futures on and off the field.]
— Broderick Jones (@millionairemov3) January 4, 2019
Auburn will still do all it can to pry Jones away from Georgia.
“I still talk to them,” Jones said. “I talk to a lot of schools but Auburn is pushing the hardest.”
Jones looked at the potential to play in both All-American games this year. There was a clear opportunity to play for both games, but the Under Armour All-American Game asked him first.
Jones accepted that invitation. He is still going to play in that game.
“That shows you a side of Broderick there,” Hamler said. “He wanted to play in both of those games. That is a great trip out to Texas but he said he told those coaches he was going to play in the Under Armour. He gave them his word and following through on that means a lot to him. His word matters to him.”
He will look to pursue a degree in Sports Management once he arrives on a college campus.