Cyrus Jones talks it up

BALTIMORE -- Cyrus Jones is at home on the football field. Not so much behind the podium.

"When he's on the football field it's just him and the ball. He's there on his own," Cyrus' mother, Tomika Jones, said. "He's more nervous talking [in front of a crowd] because he's not a very talkative person. By nature, he's just a very quiet, cool, calm, collected kid."

However, duty called when Jones, who is No. 34 in the ESPNU 150, was officially introduced and handed his jersey for the Under Armour All-America Game. It was the first stop on the 80-stop tour for the American Family Insurance presents the Under Armour All-America Game selection tour.

Nerves? No question.

Yet when the four-star prospect from Baltimore Gilman stepped to the podium, he handled it as deftly as a toss sweep.

"I just want to take this time to thank everyone who helped me get to this point, to help me grow throughout my high school career," Jones said. "I want to thank my parents first of all. They're always pushing me. … I want to thank all my coaches since I started playing football. They've definitely impacted my life.

"I don't know what I'd be doing if I wasn't playing football. It's the one thing I love to do."

On stage, Jones was joined by his mother and father, Gilman assistant coach Henry Russell and representatives from Under Armour in front of a packed auditorium.

"It's nice to see him being honored in front of his whole high school with the media, ESPN, the Baltimore Sun," Cyrus' father, Cyrus Jones Sr., said. "He's known nationally and that's great, not only for him but for the school in general and Baltimore city."

Jones will represent in the fifth-annual all-star game in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 5, as well as practices in Orlando, Fla., the week leading up to the game. He said he plans to announce his college decision during the broadcast on ESPN.

Jones recently marked Notre Dame off his list. A source close to his recruitment said the Fighting Irish' 2-2 start and the uproar over coach Brian Kelly's berating of players on the sidelines played a part in his decision.

Jones will take his official visit to Alabama on Oct. 26 and Auburn on Nov. 26. He has already taken an official visit to Virginia Tech and is also considering Maryland, Ohio State, Virginia and West Virginia, where he took an unofficial visit last week.

The Jones family has ties to the Mountaineers. Jones Sr. played basketball at West Virginia and coached WVU standout junior receiver Tavon Austin when he played basketball at Baltimore Dunbar. The younger Jones said Austin has long been one of his role models.

"One of the early people I watched coming up, just tried to model my game somewhat after him," Jones said. "I just try to be explosive when I get the ball like he is. I guess you can compare us on the football field."

West Virginia coaches have told the Jones family that they plan to use him the same way they use Austin, by moving him around in their potent spread offense. However, a perfect fit on the field doesn't mean an easy decision.

"The system that they have is great for Cyrus' talent, but we're going to look beyond that in reference to picking a school," Jones Sr. said. "It's really about developing relationships versus just going somewhere to a particular school because you like what they do on the football field so we'll talk about it and discuss it but right now we're not really leaning towards any one particular school. We're looking at a couple right now."

As for Jones Sr.'s history with West Virginia, that's a factor that's tough to decipher.

"As far as me going there because my dad went there, it's not like that at all," Jones Jr. said. "Or it's not like me running away from the school because my dad went there. It's neither. It's basically just my decision. I feel comfortable when I go there. That's why they're one of my top schools."

Selecting Jones first in the jersey presentation tour was a natural. Under Armour is based in Baltimore and the school sponsors Gilman.

Now, if the tour can just find a more comfortable public speaker.
Ah, no matter -- they got a lot more.

"It's amazing," Tomika Jones said. "It's a chance to see all your hard work in raising Cyrus. Now he's finally at a stage where he's reaping the benefits of us being hard on him. He's a stick-with-it type kid. Whatever you start, you don't quit. That's basically what Cyrus is doing."

Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for more than a decade. Email him at davehookerespn@gmail.com.