Every Friday, the AJC will introduce a lesser-known recruit in the state as part of a weekly spotlight series. This week’s Friday Night Spotlight is on Juwuan Jones, an inside linebacker out of Lanier High School.
- Name: Juwuan Jones
- High School: Lanier
- Position: ILB
- Ranking: Unranked
- Offers: Wisconsin
- Class: 2017
When you think of Lanier High School, you think of Georgia’s No. 1 prospect, Derrick Brown. It’s hard not to.
But if you peel back the layers of Lanier’s defense, you’ll find Juwuan Jones, who’s been the glue to the Longhorns’ front seven for the last two years.
An unranked junior, Jones is one of Georgia’s best-kept secrets. He’s received one offer — Wisconsin — but that number is likely to increase soon. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Jones has a frame that suggests he’ll make a smooth transition to the college level. He’s described by his head coach at Lanier as explosive, dependable and intelligent.
He’s the brains of the operations. Jones is a 3.8 student in the classroom, and that’s translated over to the football field. And last year, he was the only sophomore to start for Lanier, and he’s been responsible for setting the front ever since.
“In our scheme, our prototypical Mike (linebacker) is a big kid that plays in the box,” said Lanier coach Korey Mobbs. “But also, just from what we’ve done defensively in the past, that’s our guy that sets the front. You can’t have a guy there that is lacking from a football sense. And Juwuan has always been a very football smart kid.”
On the field, Jones aims to play like NFL greats Lawrence Taylor and Ray Lewis. He acknowledges that he’s best suited stopping the run, but he’s working to improve his coverage skills, too. He says he doesn’t have the big measurables: the vertical or 40-yard dash. But Jones is an intriguing prospect nonetheless.
Over the summer, he attended camps at Duke, Louisville and UGA, among others, and flashed a skill set that makes him a possible fit at outside linebacker or as a hybrid defensive end. He performed pass-rushing drills for the first time at a handful of those camps, and coaches said he was a natural.
It’s led some schools to believe he could be a defensive end at the next level.
“I can see him as a Big Ten, against-the-run, in-the-box kind of linebacker,” said Mobbs. “But I also think he’s explosive enough to play in space to be an edge rush kind of guy with great footwork. He has explosion. I think he played so early for us that we’re just now seeing the results of the work he’s put in at the weight room.”
And schools have certainly taken notice. As of late, Jones says he’s been in contact with Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, Clemson, Stanford and Florida, among others. Jones, who was offered by the Badgers two weeks ago, says he didn’t even know he was on the program’s radar.
“I was really exhilarated when I got my first big offer,” said Jones, “but I didn’t even know Wisconsin was recruiting me at the time.”
Wisconsin was the first domino to fall for Jones, and it certainly won’t be the last. His coaches are confident that he’s primed for a stellar junior season, as is Jones himself. He knows he has what it takes to play on Saturdays.
“When I started as a sophomore, I realized, ‘OK, if I get these offers, I could play some Saturday football,’” said Jones. “I have the size and the athletic ability to play in college.”
Lanier has a home bout against Clarke Central tonight at 7:00 p.m.