By Jim Halley, USA TODAY High School Sports | October 26, 2016 2:06 pm
Levi Jones had an early taste of the Under Armour All-America Game, and that was enough to make sure he wanted to go back.
Jones, a senior linebacker at Westlake (Austin, Texas), was a ball boy at the 2012 Under Armour Game when his oldest brother Cayleb was a receiver for the Black team.
“Back then I was short and fat,” Jones said. “Having had my brother in the game was a reason I picked the game, but not the majority reason. I like Florida a lot. I was born there when my dad played for the Miami Dolphins. Plus, I like the athletes that have played in the game over the years.”
Jones was presented with his honorary jersey when the Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance came to Westlake on Wednesday.
His two brothers are receivers. Cayleb was a senior last fall at Arizona, where he led the Wildcats in receptions. Zay is a senior at East Carolina, where he is leading the team with 95 catches with 129.9 yards a game. Levi said his No. 17 jersey at Westlake is a nod to his brothers as Cayleb wore No. 1 at Arizona and Zay is No. 7 at ECU, plus the combination of one and seven equals the eight members of his immediate family.
Instead of playing offense, Levi has followed in the steps of his father Robert, who was a NFL linebacker for 10 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins, and Washington Redskins.
“Growing up, I wanted to be a skill player, a quarterback or a receiver, just like them,” he said. “Getting to high school, I realized that I was better on the other side of the ball.”
Last season, he led the Chaparrals with 116 tackles and six sacks and the team was a state 6A-I runner-up, finishing 14-2 after losing 21-14 in the title game to North Shore (Houston).
This year, as a team captain, he’s again off to a solid pace with 57 tackles and two sacks through eight games. though Westlake’s season has been uneven. The Chaparrals have been hurt by injuries to star quarterback Sam Ehlinger, a Texas commit who is now out for the season with a broken thumb. Westlake is 6-2 after beginning the season with a 32-29 defeat of eight-time state champion Katy, only to fall in week two to Liberty (Henderson, Nev.), now ranked No. 25 in the Super 25. Two weeks ago, the Chaparrals suffered their second loss, falling 49-7 to crosstown rival Lake Travis.
“Injuries are a part of the game,” Jones said. “You can’t base your season on one player staying healthy. It’s not like I can sit back and relax. I feel like I have to raise my level of play. I think our team has worked really hard at the most important part of the season.”
Jones is no longer short or fat. He’s 6-3 and 215 pounds and is considered the No. 16 linebacker recruit in the 2017 class, according to 247Sports.com. He said he’s in no hurry to commit to a college.
“I haven’t set an official list,” Jones said. “Most people I talk do say I will benefit from making later visits, after the season. My brothers just tell me to keep a level head and find a place where I will benefit and be a better person off the field. They say to find an environment that fits me, on the field and off the field.”
2017 Under Armour All-America Game, Katy High School (Katy TX), Lake Travis High School (Austin TX), Levi Jones, North Shore High School (Houston TX), Sam Ehlinger, Westlake High School (Austin TX), Under Armour All-America Game Selection Tour