Benito Jones embodies the gentle giant.
You won’t hear him boasting about how many sacks he has on a Friday night or posting a play-by-play of his recruitment on social media.
Away from football, the 6-foot-3, 270 pound defensive tackle is all humility, soft spoken and understated.
That all changes when he puts his helmet on.
“I don’t have no friends on the field,” Jones said. “Everybody out there is fighting to get better. I’m not going to disrespect anyone but I’m not going to stop until there’s no more seconds on the clock.”
Jones carries on Wayne County’s tradition of producing high-level Division I players. His cousin is former Auburn linebacker Steve Gandy and one of his closest friends is Washington Redskins nose tackle Jerrell Powe.
Both of these former War Eagles instilled a sense of work ethic and drive in the budding senior. Seeing the road Powe, a Dandy Dozen selection in 2004, took to the NFL motivates Jones not to just follow on the same path, but accomplish more than the former five-star All-American.
“I used to watch his film when I came into high school,” he said. “I wanted to be like him, but I wanted to be better than him. I want to be the fastest guy to the ball.”
Stat breakdown: 69 tackles (14 solo), 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 3 forced fumbles as a junior.
Rankings: Four-star prospect by 247Sports, Rivals and Scout. Ranked No. 6 in The Clarion-Ledger’s Targeted 22.
What makes him a Dandy: Jones is one of the most fundamentally sound linemen in the state. He’s big, fires off the ball low and gets into the backfield quickly. The four-star prospect stands close to 6-foot-3, 270 pounds and while slightly undersized for an SEC defensive tackle, Jones could add size to his frame. He doesn’t rely on his size to control blockers. There’s a chance that he could transition into a five-technique defensive end to stack tall offensive tackles and shed blocks at the next level. Jones’ first step is lethal and he consistently hits the gap hard to disrupts offensive progress. His speed, agility and ability to change direction quickly make him the type of player he is, causing nightmares for the offensive lineman who line up across from him.
Where he’s going: Despite growing up an Alabama fan, Jones flipped his commitment from the Crimson Tide to Ole Miss last summer. The defensive tackle told The Clarion-Ledger that he wanted to stick with his Alabama commitment from the start but didn’t feel as strongly towards the Tide as he did the Rebels. Nick Saban and staff continue to pursue the four-star product as does Mississippi State and LSU. Make no mistake, Jones is one of nation’s most pursued defensive linemen and his recruitment won’t slow down until he signs his National Letter of Intent in February.
Best time to catch him this fall: Sept. 18 vs. Archbishop Rummel (La.). Wayne County opens with a tough stretch of non-region games including Warren Central, Oak Grove and Meridian. The gridiron will be littered with Division I talent when the War Eagles square off against the Raiders. Archbishop Rummel’s defense is loaded with four-star defensive tackle and Arkansas commit Briston Guidry and four-star cornerback Kristian Fulton. This level of competition will serve to prepare Wayne County for a rugged Region 3-5A.
What they said: “He’s one of those guys that has a good combo of quickness, speed and agility as well as power,” Wayne County coach Todd Mangum said. “He’s not just a big guy, but a big guy who can move. His first three steps are the things that are most impressive.”
Worth noting: Jones is the fourth Dandy Dozen from Wayne County. The last selection was former War Eagles quarterback Drexler Johnson in 2006.
Contact Courtney Cronin at (601) 961-7091 or email@example.com. Follow @CourtneyRCronin on Twitter.