Marvin Jones Jr: The 5-star signee that got Kirby Smart to sing karaoke on his official
Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This entry shares a good in-depth look at the type of young man Georgia signed in the 2022 class in 5-star EDGE Marvin Jones Jr.
Google the name “Marvin Jones Jr.” and there will be a trove of achievements to sort through.
5-star UGA signee. High School All-American. State champion out of American Heritage in South Florida. Nat Moore Award finalist. Son of an FSU All-American. The nation’s No. 24 overall prospect for 2022 on the 247Sports Composite ratings.
Jones has jaw-dropping God-given talent. It is no stretch to project him to leave UGA after three impressive years.
We will offer a different Marvin Jones Jr. story here than all of that.
It will involve karaoke.
And just a little bit about spearfishing.
And learning that two coaches at two different schools he was favoring were leaving for new jobs.
The terms “late bloomer” and “perseverance” matter here. His real-life experiences have taught him that things aren’t going to go his way. Those terms have instilled a work ethic and a desire to improve
They mean as much to why he will be a success as the way he bends, dips and rips after a first step so golden his fellow All-Americans envy it.
What makes his mother the proudest has nothing to do with athletic excellence, but mental toughness.
“The fact he didn’t start off as strong as people believed him to be,” his mother Alexsandra Jones said. “He evidently did finish up strong. But he not playing his eighth grade or ninth-grade years because of offense. He had people in front of him and was faced with having to wait in high school.”
Jones, the great pass rush prospect, was a receiver and a quarterback early in his career. This 5-star watched a lot of football games when he was in the eighth and ninth grade.
The nearly 6-foot-5 and 245-pounder didn’t start playing defense halfway through his high school career.
“Just having the patience to show up at practice every day and be there and just want to be a part of something,” she said. “You know eventually going on to defense and everything flourished for him. That’s what makes me the proudest about him. Him just sticking it out where maybe others might have thought to quit.”
“Perseverance” for Marvin Jones Jr.
Jones was a player when he was younger. He didn’t have to adjust to waiting his turn until high school.
“Perseverance” applied here to a young man whose father was just named to the College Football Hall of Fame. He won the Butkus and Lombardi Awards in 1992. “Shade Tree” was selected in the first round and played 10 seasons in the NFL.
That wasn’t the only legacy Marvin Jr. had to live up to. His uncle, Fred Jones, was also a linebacker at FSU.
The Georgia signee chose his own way as an edge rusher.
“He could have gone into his Dad’s shadow and been a linebacker but he chose to be something different,” his mother said. “He’s very versatile. He decided to be a quarterback and then he decided to be a receiver. I don’t think it was upsetting to him at all. I think he knew he wanted to play something specific and he was willing to wait it out in order to be able to play that position.”
His half-brother, Darryl Porter, was a defensive back at West Virginia for the last two seasons. He just put his name in the transfer portal this week.
Jones, who is also his mother, had been through the recruiting process with Porter in 2020. Darryl Porter Sr., his father, is an assistant coach at American Heritage. He has a unique connection to Marvin’s ascent as a 5-star pass-rush prospect.
The moment came while Marvin was still waiting his turn at wide receiver.
“Darryl’s Dad coaches the defense and he kind of just said one day at practice ‘Hey Marvin, do you want to play?’”
Marvin Jr. said: “Heck yeah I want to play.”
“He said ‘Then come play for me,’” Jones said. “He said ‘I will put you on defense’ and that’s how it happened. Marvin just went to defense after two-and-a-half years of offense and it just happened for him. It happened overnight and it happened during a time when it was really difficult during the pandemic. There were a lot of protocols in place and not being able to play the full sport because of the protocols in place. He still did amazing in his tenth-grade year.”
Jones played all over the field from his early years into middle school. But he was largely a quarterback.
So he waited his turn. On the offensive side. It never came there even though the first play on his senior highlight tape shows him sprinting downfield to haul in a pass for a big gain.
He gained 25-30 pounds before one season. Then he added another 25 pounds before the next season.
“People were like stunned,” Jones said. “They were like what are you feeding him. I said the same things. He just grew.”
None of this came easy. As much as he makes it look that way on his senior film.
If he maximizes his potential in Athens, he could challenge Georgia records for sacks. The experiences he has already been through indicate he just might be up for it.
“He wakes up every morning looking for a challenge,” Jones said. “And wanting to be challenged.”
An example showed at the All-American practices. It was there that he saw his future Georgia teammate take over the event with a couple of viral practice days. Jones was impressed. But also mature enough to ask Williams if he could pick his brain.
Williams was already a good friend from their mutual Georgia visits. He obliged. Watching Williams show Jones a few things was eye-opening. Then Jones had a few tips for Williams.
The sight of those two already in the lab together was already making Georgia better on defense. They weren’t even together in Athens yet. They were out in Texas.
“He’s someone that I can’t wait to work with,” Jones said out in Texas. “I think he does a lot of stuff better than me. Having him on my side I really think is going to elevate my game. I think it will elevate his. I think I do some stuff he doesn’t do. He does a lot of stuff I don’t do.”
“I think us being able to learn from each other is going to make us really great players.”
Williams wound up rated as the nation’s No. 4 overall prospect in this class. Both are cat-quick. Both are right at the 6-foot-5 mark or taller. Both will weigh over 250 pounds in college.
Good luck trying to slide the protection and double both of those guys on the same side.
“You can’t double both of us,” Jones said. “Let’s see how these next three years go.”
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Marvin Jones Jr: Bet you haven’t read this recruiting story yet
Florida State. Miami. Clemson. Oklahoma. Alabama. Georgia. Florida State. Georgia.
Marvin Jones Jr. said that’s basically the way his recruiting story went for the last two years he was in high school. He had those different leaders in his process.
“My last visit I think kind of sealed it for Georgia,” he said last month at the All-American Bowl week.
Williams was on that visit. The two 5-stars became fast friends. They very well could be pillars of the Georgia defense in the years to come.
They sized up each other that weekend in Athens. They knew what they could do and showed DawgNation a glimpse of that during the All-American Bowl week practices. They shredded would-be blockers that week and their highlights went viral.
But his official visit weekend needs to be remembered for another event. Not just the key weekend where he became a ‘Dawg.
It came in the midst of the Dan Lanning rumors and news to Oregon. Kirby Smart signing Karaoke may or may not have had something to do with that.
Oscar Delp’s mother also had a great karaoke story from an official visit weekend. It was what the parents did at the Smart house during this recruiting cycle.
“Supposedly Kirby has never done Karaoke,” his mother said. “I think that was is in his seven years of being the head coach. I think he had only done it two times. My brother, Jimmy Proano, came on the visit with us. That’s Marvin’s uncle. Kirby Smart did karaoke with my brother.”
The song was “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks.
“Marvin was out separately on his official visit with his host,” she said. “I sent him the video and Marvin just said ‘Mom that is the coolest thing ever’ and he just goes off like that. All the other Georgia coaches were like ‘How did Jimmy get Coach Smart to do karaoke and I’ve been trying to get him to do that for years?’ and it was really really great. It was awesome. It was a really great experience.”
Did Smart pull it off?
“It was hilarious,” she said. “Coach Smart had the whole crowd moving. It was awesome. Marvin was cracking up when he saw it.”
When he saw the video pop up on his phone, he smiled. It convinced him that everything was a “big family” at Georgia.
“Watching the video and seeing my uncle getting him to sing,” Jones Jr. said. “I heard he had never sung before. I guess it was cool that he brought that out of Coach Smart. It was cool to see.”
Jones had a clear answer for why her son chose UGA.
“I think we had our criteria of the things he definitely wants in a program and Georgia checked all the boxes,” she said. “From a player development aspect to the facilities to the depth chart from him really being able to maximize the edge rush position and I think the icing on the cake was definitely Coach Smart.”
“When you go to these official visits, they close it out with a meeting with the head coach. I think Coach Smart’s approach to Marvin was so much different than any other head coach. He kind of put it to him more in a business aspect.”
Smart connected it to the NFL.
“He said if you see yourself in the NFL this is what I have done and this is what I can do,” Jones said. “His pitch to Marvin was like no other in comparison to me with all the other head coaches. I just think he felt comfortable around Coach Smart. Coach Smart is a very personable person. He’s funny. You can actually speak to him. They can rub elbows together. There are other coaches out there that are a little bit more intimidating. I won’t say who. He just felt comfortable. That this could really be my guy. He could see himself going fishing with Coach Smart.”
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What Marvin Jones Jr. showed during his recruitment
Jones has raised him, but he’s like his father in a thousand ways, she said.
“I get annoyed at him sometimes,” she said. “I find myself saying he is just like his Dad. Because he is just like his father.”
When his father was growing up, he was on the honor roll. He was part of Junior ROTC.
“They kind of think alike,” she said, “Their personalities are very very very similar. Very similar. Very intellectual.”
When he gets tired, he put his hands on his hips.
“That to me is a sign of laziness,” Jones said. “I would tell him to get his hands off his hips. I have to correct that. When coaches see him like that, that shows he is tired. He had to get his hands off his hips. His Dad did the same thing when he played ball.”
The recruitment process is a journey of endless pampering and wooing. Sometimes even the most mature young men get warped by it.
“What I learned about Marvin which was what really impressed me was his ability to micromanage so many different teams and so many different coaches and so many different personalities,” Alexsandra Jones said. “If you look at it, you have the recruiter, then the defensive coordinator and the head coach. He did all of that alone. He was able to facilitate every single team within the recruiting process and did it very eloquently and professionally.”
If schools tried to bypass her, they heard about it. She played the part of “Momma Bear” the way a Jones man plays defense. Except she was the one defending her son from recruiters selling unrealistic dreams. She said she had to establish boundaries between recruiters and her son over and over again.
When Jones had to call somebody, he did. When it was time to Zoom, he zoomed. He established strong relationships with several schools.
Architecture or Computer Science sound like possible majors. Those are his interests, but as of now, he is undecided. Jones said Marvin has a knack for problem-solving.
“What is very funny about Marvin is he is Mister Know-It-All,” she said. “He knows everything. Tries to figure everything out. Any time I try to do anything. Or put something together. He’s like ‘Mom move over I got this’ and I’ve always allowed him to do it. He just figures things out. Miraculous. He’s highly intellectual. I don’t think he even wants people to know that. His IQ as a child was just always off the charts.”
“I can remember saying that I got him this SAT prep class and he’s like ‘For what?’ and I’d say so you can do well on the SAT and he’s like ‘No, Mom I don’t need it’ and he goes in there and takes the test and does amazing on his own.”
She estimates her son’s GPA to be in the 3.8-to-4.0 range. His SAT score is approximately 1200-1300. It rests close to the average score for any incoming freshman at UGA.
Marvin will say he wants to go spearfishing. She’ll balk at it. He’d never done anything like that before. Until he goes out and does it. Extremely well.
“He does things that most football players will not do,” she said. “Whether it is designing a website or creating a graphic design he is just very intuitive in anything he wants to do. Anything he wants to do, he does it.”
She sees him as an entrepreneur or working in the IT field one day.
“He’s kind of that kid that walks among the crowd and is very quiet,” his mother said. “Yet when he talks, he captures attention.”
There’s a strong sense he wants to carve his own niche in the game. There is some pressure there, but he knows what he wants.
Georgia offers him the ability to do his own thing. That’s no slight to FSU. The family built great relationships with Mike Norvell and his staff.
“His father has told him this is your life,” his mother said. “He said you have to go to college and be there by yourself. Then be happy with it. That’s what we have instilled within him. We support his decision and this now becomes a lot more comfortable for him to proceed with it without having the pressure of carving his identity around his father’s legacy.”
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Marvin Jones Jr: What happened with Oklahoma?
It is always interesting how foggy the last few weeks of a decision process can go. Especially once the recruiting services saw him add even more weight to his frame.
He broke out as a junior with a double-digit sack season. Then he put on more weight and kept moving the way he did previously. He looked like a former receiver and quarterback now lining up on the edge.
The new start-up service, On3Recruits, tabbed him as the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for a time this fall. There was also the notion going around message boards and social media that Jones was set on Oklahoma until Lincoln Riley left for USC.
“With that said, he’d been wanting to be a Sooner from early on,” his mother said. “I would say like the eighth grade. I think that it just sparked an interest.”
He hit it off with a recruiter on that OU staff. Then he had a great official visit to Norman. He wanted to specifically be used as an edge rusher. That relationship stretched across two years.
Jones can’t say for certain he was bound for Oklahoma but felt it was moving that way. Until Riley left. That school was not always his top pick, but it was always one of his top choices.
When the Riley news broke, it was wild. They were at a Miami Dolphins game when it started to come out.
“I was getting all these text messages and these tweets and I was like this can’t be happening,” Jones said. “I felt for Marvin. He did seem very disappointed. He was like ‘Well, Mom back to the drawing board’ and we got calls from the athletic department and we got calls from Coach Riley to kind of alleviate it. But it was what it was and we definitely had to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate his other choices.”
They felt close to Riley and his staff. That’s why they went out to USC for a late official, too.
“We were kind of like already married into it and I think that is why we made the trip to USC,” she said. “Just to kind of shake it off. So to speak.”
That was a visit of loyalty. They tried to sell him it was going to be the same program and offerings. Just in a different location. It didn’t stick.
“I wanted him to know that was not it for him so that when he did consider Georgia, you know, with all of that,” Jones said. “When you kind of have to just go see it for yourself and then just say ‘Ok that is not it for me’ then you don’t have to second guess it or ‘what if’ to look at it. I just needed him to go look and it was definitely a no and then Georgia just became much more real to him.”
Porter proved to be a confidante for his half-brother. There was a moment after he took a key unofficial to UGA. Jones thought it went really well, but wasn’t sure.
When she asked Marvin Jr. too many questions, he would get real short.
“He’d say ‘Mom you are doing the most’ and ‘Just stop’ when I do that,” she said. “So I literally called Darryl and was like ‘Did he like it?’ and he was like ‘Mom, he is going there’ and he said ‘I wasn’t allowed to say anything and had to play hush hush’ and he was like ‘Mom he wants to literally sign tomorrow’ and I was like he can’t. He still has official visits forthcoming to take.”
“So his brother knew this way ahead of time than when I knew.”
Marvin said it wasn’t that simple. But he did indicate Georgia helped itself a lot on that unofficial for the Kentucky game.
Debunking a few generalizations about this recruitment
When Jones made his decision in front of a national audience on ESPN, he said Georgia had a vibe he wanted to be around. That went back to his unofficial visit during the regular season.
Former UGA assistant Jahmile Addae, now off to Miami, was a key player. He was key in recruiting Porter to West Virginia when he was on the staff there.
“I think there’s a misconception that Georgia just kind of came in at the end,” Alexsandra Jones said. “They did not come in at the end. Only because coach Addae, he recruited my other son. There was already a relationship with coach Addae for over three years now.”
Georgia had been in the picture for over a year. But not to the extent Oklahoma was.
Smart, and his wife Mary Beth, played another role here. Aside from his Garth Brooks act.
Jones had a friend who met Mary Beth years ago when Smart was an NFL assistant coach for Nick Saban on the Miami Dolphins staff in 2006. That was Smart’s only season in the NFL.
It is quite a small world sometimes.
“Coach Smart is a wonderful coach,” his mother said. “I have actually a best friend that actually knows Coach Smart’s wife. She kind of gave me a background on the school and the athletic department.”
There is also a history of American Heritage players going to UGA and elevating their careers to the NFL.
“We have kids that commit from Florida that have gone to Georgia,” Jones said. “We had Tyson Campbell and Sony Michel and then there was coach Addae. So it kind of felt like home. When we got there, it felt like home.”
“It wasn’t like pressure. It just felt so comfortable. I never saw Marvin smile so much.”
And then the Lanning rumors began to pop on the first day of his official.
“Marvin loved Coach Lanning and then when that happened he got upset all over again,” Jones said. “I had to kind of rechannel him. I was like ‘Marvin if you want to be a Bulldog you have to marry the program’ and ‘You have to marry the head coach’ since coaches leave and they change a lot all the time. If you’re in it for the position coach then you are making the wrong decision.”
She said Lanning called her the next day and spoke of the opportunity that was still there at UGA.
“He was a little bit apologetic but told me what a great opportunity it was for him and his family,” she said. “I congratulated him and that was pretty much it.”
Lanning told her Georgia was still the place.
“He was like either way Marvin is going to be good here at Georgia,” she said. “I guess they had already spoken about Marvin potentially committing. He said either way Marvin didn’t need him there. He was going to be great at Georgia regardless. He was a pedigree and was going to be fine with or without him.”
Lanning even told her Smart was going to take care of him.
Jones told her son she believed in Smart. She knew he would hire the best candidate for Lanning’s position.
“I needed him to choose this school because this is your heart and it is home and you want to be a Bulldog and you want to call this home,” she said. “When I had the conversation with him, then he started smiling again.”
They were on the phone with coaches for a long time after that official visit.
“It probably happened where we really knew knew probably four or five days before he committed,” his mother said.
She now believes in that saying that the school that gets the last visit usually wins out.
“I think that all of the changes with coaches and all those changes I just think it all happened as it should have happened,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t necessarily say there was a second choice. To me, there was not a second choice.”
Look for Jones to report to UGA in late May.
“My hopes and dreams for Marvin are that with this whole transfer portal thing is he sticks with one school and graduates there as alumni,” she said. “That he basically finds a family within Georgia. The Bulldogs. With this fan base and that for people to see Marvin for who Marvin really is. Not who his Dad is.”
“I hope to see him establish a name for himself within the community of Georgia in Athens for himself. Establishing his own brand within Georgia and doing very well with it. To see that he is really a Bulldog. That he is a Bulldog now and through any future changes within the athletic department. So that he understands he wants to be an alumnus and be married to his program. That’s my biggest hope for Marvin.”
Check out the senior highlights for Jones below:
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