Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, May 10, 2013 | 2:05 a.m.
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- Oregon football lands another local in Green Valley lineman Tyrell Crosby
- Gorman, other prepping to make a national splash
- College coaches flocking to Foothill to recruit quarterback Drew Doxtator
- Not only is Gorman football back in the Sollenberger Classic, they will host this year’s two-game event
- High school football section
Five months ago, Bishop Gorman High rising junior tight end Alize Jones was a relative unknown.
Things started to change last December when he burst onto the scene in the state championship game, scoring on touchdown passes of 78 and 10 yards to help Gorman win its fourth straight title.
At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and possessing 4.7-second speed in the 40-yard dash, college recruiters quickly took notice. First, Jones received a scholarship offer from UCLA. Then, Baylor and Vanderbilt followed.
Soon, he was firmly on the radar of virtually every program and was being profiled by national recruiting websites — some calling him one of the best at his position for the class of 2015.
Utah and Arizona offered scholarships this week, giving Jones seven offers — something that’s downright impressive for a high school sophomore. But he’s not buying into the hype and still operates with the mentality of an unproven player.
“I always feel I have to work hard,” he said. “I know there is someone out there trying to work harder than me.”
Gaels coach Tony Sanchez feels the past months have stood out for his tight end for a different reason. Jones has been one of the program’s most productive players in offseason training, adding more than 15 pounds of bulk to his frame and blossoming into a player expected to dominate the next two seasons.
“The thing about Alize is he is such a good kid,” Sanchez said. “He is a hard worker. He really strives to be the best every day. That competitiveness is really going to take him a long way. The thing about him is he has dedicated himself in the offseason. You see him — his body is different; he is a lot more physical. We expect him to be a huge part of our offense this year.”
Jones began last season as Gorman’s backup tight end and had just six catches for 120 yards entering the state championship game against Liberty. That quickly changed seconds before halftime when he took a short pass and raced 78 yards untouched for a touchdown. Just like that, a star was born.
Instead of becoming complacent because of the success and guaranteed spot at the next level, Jones has pushed even harder. He knows he’ll be a crucial part of Gorman’s passing game in the fall and realizes opposing defenses will try to find ways to stop him.
That’s far from the attention he received last year. Gorman had two three-year starters at wide receiver and one of nation’s top-recruited running backs, and Jones never caught multiple passes in a game until grabbing three receptions in the state championship.
“I just try to go out there and play hard,” he said. “I try not to think what coach is watching or what scholarships I may or may not have. I just want to go out and help my team win the game.”
Jones isn’t the first Gorman tight end in recent memory to be highly rated. Xavier Grimble, a 2010 graduate, was the nation’s No. 1-ranked tight end and a top-50 overall recruit, picking USC over Florida and Oklahoma.
Jones considers Grimble one of his mentors and has reached out on multiple occasions to get advice. Because of their similar build and ability, Jones said he’s already heard comparisons.
He’s just fine being the next Xavier Grimble, especially if that means blocking as well as Grimble.
“I’m faster than he is,” Jones said. “I watched a lot of tape from when he was here, and even from SC, and he’s big and makes all the catches. But he’s not faster. That’s something I want to keep, my speed.”
Jones’ recruitment is still in the early stages, but UCLA will surely be in contention for his services until signing day in February 2015.
“My whole family was excited for that (scholarship offer),” he said. “They are big Bruins fans. It was exciting for us.”