Prep Football: Danville senior lineman Michael Jones signs with Wofford College
Danville assistant coach Jerry Perry applauds as lineman Michael Jones says his letter-of-intent Wednesday to play football at Wofford College as Jones¿ mother, Beth¿Jones, looks on. (Hal Morris / February 7, 2013)
The senior said he was torn on which school to play college football for until about 20 minutes before his scheduled signing ceremony Wednesday at Danville High School. But the school that was there all along won out, and Jones signed his letter of intent with Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.
“I was still kind of juggling the decision until about 20 minutes ago. I went with my gut decision and on my official visit, I loved Wofford,” said Jones, who was recruited as an offensive tackle. “I loved Eastern Kentucky, too, but at Wofford the people stood out to me more than they did at Eastern.”
Jones capped his high school career by being named the Advocate-Messenger’s Lineman of the Year along with Boyle County’s Trey Yeager. He was an All-Area selection on offense and defense also played in last month’s National Guard Border Bowl.
Jones said he kept his choice a secret from his family and friends.
“It was kind of a secret. I was just having a little fun with it,” he said. “I mean, it only comes around once in a lifetime, why not?”
Jones picked Wofford, which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly 1-AA), over Furman, Murray State and Eastern.
“Wofford was the first school to offer me. They offered me in June after their camp. Wofford really stood out to me. They’ve got two Danville coaches (Wofford assistants) Nathan Fuqua and Shadon Brown,”¿Jones said. “I went down there in the summer and I really liked the coaches and the campus. It’s really a beautiful place.
“I went on my official visit (last month) and the players really stood out to me. They’re just different from everyone else. I really felt like I was their brother on my official visit. That’s what I loved about it. I loved Eastern as well, but I didn’t get the family feel that I did with Wofford.”
Jones said no one had anything bad to say about Wofford on his visits, which made an impact on him.
“I asked everyone down there, ‘Do you like Wofford?’ And they said, ‘Yeah I love it,’” he said. “At Eastern I’d ask a few people and they said, ‘Yeah it’s alright or yeah, but it gets kind of boring sometimes.’ I never got that at Wofford.”
But it was the education as much as football that really sold Jones on Wofford.
“It’s a really great education. I’ve grown up impoverished my whole life, so I want to give my family what I didn’t have. I wanted to get a great education, be able to have a good paying job, and I think I can do that at Wofford,” Jones, who plans on studying physical therapy, said.
Football, particularly Wofford’s winning ways, which also played a big role. The Terriers went 9-4 last season, including a 6-2 mark in the Southern Conference, and advanced ot the FCS quarterfinals before losing 14-7 to North Dakota State.
“At Wofford, you’re guaranteed a great education and a great football team,”¿he said.
Jones, who is listed at 6-4 and 270 pounds, is working to get bigger and stronger to compete at a higher level of football.
“I’m trying to get in the weight room as much as I can, and I’m trying to push myself as much as I can when the coaches aren’t there encouraging me,”¿Jones said. “It just really comes down to whether you want it or not.”
Naturally, Jones dreamed of playing major college football growing up, but he said he could not have a better situation for his future.
“When I was little, of course I pictured I was going to play at Kentucky,”¿he said. “But as time goes on, you realize there are greater things than just going to the dream school.”