It had been a mostly quiet spring for Titus Jones, and that wasn't a good thing. Even after becoming a full academic qualifier, the Woodland gridiron standout wasn't flooded with college …
It had been a mostly quiet spring for Titus Jones, and that wasn't a good thing. Even after becoming a full academic qualifier, the Woodland gridiron standout wasn't flooded with college offers.
Jones watched four of his former teammates sign with Shorter University. Still, he waited for that opportunity he craved, the chance he deserved.
It finally came from Alabama A&M, offering the 2018 DTN Player of the Year a place on a Division-I roster.
"Very thrilled," Woodland head coach Tony Plott said following Jones' signing ceremony last month. "He's a kid that athletically can play at this level, play at any level. We're just excited for him. He's done what he needed to do to get everything taken care of, and he's getting the opportunity to play now."
Following the ceremony — which featured an appearance by his older brother, Emmanuel, a football star at Colorado State via video chat — Jones expressed gratitude for seeing the recruiting process come to a satisfying conclusion.
"It's very relieving," Jones said. "All the stress is gone now."
Those who watched him on Friday nights at Wildcat Stadium should know what kind of athlete the Bulldogs will be getting in Jones. During his senior season, he proved to be Woodland's best weapon on offense, defense and special teams.
He would take snaps at quarterback and wide receiver, scoring eight total touchdowns, while averaging 8.4 yards per carry and 22.8 per reception. Jones finished with more than 100 tackles, including 68 solo stops, out of his free safety position. He blocked six kicks, while also working as the Wildcats' kickoff and punt returner.
"Since I've been here, he's the best high school football player we've had," Plott said. "You can't replace him. We're going to have to find other ways to make up for the things that he brought us. For us here, he's a once in a lifetime-type kid."
While Plott credited Jones for his work ethic in practice, he made it be known that Alabama A&M will see him take it to another level when he's lined up against an opponent.
"They're getting a guy who when the lights are on and the game's being played, he's going to give 100%," Plott said. "He's a guy who's never backed away from any contact and played 100% every game. Every week we played, I felt like he was the best kid on the field."
His versatility was one thing that made Jones such a valuable player for the Wildcats.
Even though he's unlikely to feature offensively for Alabama A&M, he could definitely see some snaps on special teams. However, the Bulldogs, which finished 6-5 with a 5-2 mark in the SWAC in 2018, will certainly love what he will bring to their defense.
"I think it's going to be huge," Plott said of Jones being able to focus more on the defensive side of things. "Just him maturing over the next couple of years, his body's going to change a bit. He's going to get bigger, faster and stronger. Skill-wise, they'll be able to coach him up and have him do some different things.
"I think he's going to be a great football player, and I think Alabama A&M are getting a steal. He's probably the biggest steal they got all year."
As with most college athletes, Jones said the Huntsville-based campus felt like home, when he visited. He also said he got a good vibe from the coaching staff and thinks he can make an impact for the Bulldogs.
"It felt like [the coaches] had a lot of faith in me," Jones said. "... It felt like I could go down there and make something happen."
He added, "I feel like I'll get up there and do pretty good. As soon as I adapt to it, I'll be able to compete with them."
His showings for Woodland on a weekly basis would seem to indicate Jones has the talent to not only carve out a role with Alabama A&M but also become one of the top defensive players in the SWAC.
Frankly, Jones has the ability to play for almost any collegiate team in the country. And while the recruiting process proved to be frustrating more often than not, Jones remains grateful to the Bulldogs for allowing him to continue playing the game he loves.
"It's been a great journey, a very long journey," he said. "But it's worth it."