Gators pick up Tampa LB


Published: Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 12:02 a.m.
The Florida Gators added some impressive defensive speed to their recruiting class Wednesday night when Tampa Middleton linebacker A.J. Jones orally committed to UF.
Jones made his announcement on the regional television show "Countdown to Signing Day", which originates from Atlanta.
The 6-foot-2, 182-pound Jones picked the Gators over Alabama after also considering scholarship offers from Ohio State, Southern Cal, LSU and South Carolina. Jones, who will make his official visit to Florida this weekend, is the 27th prospect to commit to the Gators.
"Florida has a great program and they are headed in the right direction," Jones told the Tampa Tribune before boarding a flight for Atlanta on Wednesday morning. "They have the No. 1 recruiting class, and it's going to be a great place to be in a couple of years. They told me I could (commit) whenever I was ready and never put any pressure on me.
"It's great to be wanted in this recruiting class. If we come together and do what we have to do, we should be able to compete for a national championship."
Jones, who has been timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, was a tackling machine the past two seasons at Middleton, where he played outside linebacker.
This past season, he recorded 116 tackles and five sacks and also accounted for 380 yards and five touchdowns as a starting wide receiver on offense. In his junior year, he led Hillsborough County in tackles with 170 and also recorded 16 sacks and forced six fumbles. He had 15 tackles or more in four games during his junior season.
Jones is the third linebacker to commit to the Gators, joining Suwannee's Dustin Doe and Shelby, N.C.'s Brandon Spikes, who pledged to the Gators at the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio two weeks ago. UF could add a fourth linebacker later this week if Josh Johnson from Stone Mountain, Ga., is cleared by the Florida administration to sign with the Gators on Feb. 1.
Johnson originally signed with Georgia in 2004, but was dismissed from the team for disciplinary reasons. He spent last season at Georgia Military College. He visited UF this past weekend. Tennessee also is showing an interest in Johnson.
A top linebacker who had committed to UF weeks ago is now headed elsewhere. City College of San Francisco's Larry Grant, the No. 1 junior college linebacker in the nation, failed to pass a math class required by the SEC and now will sign with either Ohio State or Texas A&M.
You can reach Robbie Andreu by calling 374-5022 or by e-mail at andreur@gvillesun.com.

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