Jones was some­one to hide from USC

The Washington Post Sunday - - WASHINGTONPOST.COM/SPORTS - BY MATT BONESTEEL matt.bonesteel@wash­post.com

At­lanta Fal­cons wide re­ceiver Julio Jones was one of the most cov­eted high school re­cruits in the coun­try in 2007 and 2008, and con­sid­er­ing he went to high school in Alabama, just about ev­ery­one there wanted him to play for Nick Sa­ban and the Crim­son Tide.

So when an in­ter­loper such as then-South­ern Cal coach Pete Car­roll started sniff­ing around, ex­treme lengths were taken to keep Jones out of view.

Rob Buska of NBC Sports Ra­dio re­layed one such tale while fill­ing in for Mike Flo­rio on “Pro Foot­ball Talk Live” this past week.

“We loved Julio so much, and he went to this high school in the mid­dle of nowhere, in the sticks there in Alabama,” Buska said Car­roll told him, as tran­scribed by All22.com. “We flew in to see him, and once we got out of the car, at the foot­ball field, dur­ing the mid­dle of prac­tice, Coach saw me and knew who I was. He took Jones off the field, ran him in­side, got the prin­ci­pal and the ath­letic di­rec­tor and locked the school.”

All that’s miss­ing from this tale is the coach re­peat­edly shout­ing “Roll Tide” at Car­roll while giv­ing him the fin­ger.

Car­roll was not al­lowed in­side the school, and Jones soon was on his way to Alabama, where he was named SEC fresh­man of the year in 2008 and helped lead the Crim­son Tide to the 2009 BCS cham­pi­onship.

“Got Nick Sa­ban at Alabama on the phone right away, and said, ‘Hey, Pete Car­roll’s out­side.’ Next thing you know, there’s your full schol­ar­ship right there,” Buska said Car­roll told him.

At the time, Sa­ban was just get­ting started at an Alabama pro­gram that was still emerg­ing from the Mike DuBose/Den­nis Fran­chione/Mike Shula dol­drums.

So he prob­a­bly needed the help in keep­ing the top in-state tal­ent at home.

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