Jones was someone to hide from USC
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.