As you've probably heard by now, Georgia picked up a commitment yesterday from Bibb County, Alabama center/guard Ben Jones. Jones was the star of the Scout combine at Georgia Tech a few weeks ago and the Mark Richt camp at Georgia this past weekend. Apparently, Coach Garner and Coach Searels actually turned Jones loose during the 1-on-1 drills to pick defensive linemen out and whip them one after the next.
You can see Jones' performance from the Scout combine here, thanks to Paul Westerdawg. Jones stands 6'2 and weighs in at a brick outhouse-ish 306. It's clear from the video that he plays with great leverage, getting up under taller players (like recent Clemson commitment A.J. Harmon and current UGA target Greg Shaw) and just punishing them.
The other thing I like about Ben Jones in this video, besides the fact that he appears to have a mean streak a mile wide, is his feet. The footwork is smooth and quick, and he exhibits great balance. Jones is clearly looking to knock people out, but even against quicker speed rush guys he doesn't get out of position. He also shows a good initial punch with his hands, which is key against those same speed rushing guys.
But you can only tell so much about offensive linemen without the pads on. It's game film that actually shows you what the big uglies can do. Rivals has some highlights of Jones posted here. Suffice it to say, he's not disappointing. Jones does a great job of finishing his blocks, and shows good mobility on some pulling plays. He even throws a cut block or two. The theme of this video is that the guy lined up across from Ben Jones more often that not ends up on the ground. And as one offensive line coach I know likes to say "nobody ever makes the tackle lying flat on his face."
Some have been wondering why Jones didn't get a scholarship offer from Alabama or Auburn if he' s that good. I think the answer comes down to numbers. The Tide have a total of 2 seniors on their three-deep roster on the offensive line. Mike Shula signed 5 offensive linemen in 2006 and 6 in 2005. Plus Alabama is just chock-full of offensive linemen this year. My guess is that the Tide are holding out for the top lineman in Alabama, Tyler Love, whose parents both went to Bama. The Tide are also looking at Memphis tackle Barrett Jones. Auburn signed 8 offensive linemen in 2007, and also has only 2 seniors on the three-deep. So they don't really have many to give, either.
Jones is currently rated a 3-star prospect by both Rivals and Scout. I'm not certain that will change just because his measurables aren't that impressive. He's not impressively tall. No one seems to know how fast he runs the 40 yard dash. But I personally don't believe any center should ever be over about 6'3, and if your center ever has to run 40 yards downfield, it means something bad has happened. Ergo, I really don't care that Jones will not be a national 100-type player. What I do care about is that Jones is the kind of mean, nasty lineman who likes to throw people on the ground and yell at them, and probably downs 3 aggression pills with his morning Ovalteen. And, to follow Paul's Jerry Maguire theme, I dig that about him. This is a solid. solid pickup.
Welcome aboard, Ben!!!