Mr. Jones and Me

Malcolm Jones lay in bed Wednesday night, UCLA-Stanford-UCLA-Stanford, the decision pounding his mind like a hammer, the weight of the recruiting world on his shoulders.
And then, it was gone.
“I was in my room thinking about it, thinking about what I liked and don’t like about each school, and I just decided UCLA was the place for me,” said the Oaks Christian running back, rated a five-star prospect by Scout.com and the No. 6 running back nationally. “I went straight to my parents and told them, and they were excited about it, too.”
They should be – he’s staying close to home.
After months of debate, of jockeying and of cajoling, Jones settled on the Bruins, informing them of his decision on Thursday morning.
Ultimately, in a battle between two academic institutions with rising programs, the closer one won out.
“It’s a good football program, a good school, and I felt really, really comfortable,” said Jones, who was selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, along with teammate Cassius Marsh. “I liked how it’s in SoCal. I love being down here. I like the weather. I like everything about it.
“And my parents can come see me play.”
Play, and play early, he expects.
Though Jones will enter a backfield crowded like a London phonebooth – a junior, a sophomore, two redshirt freshmen and one true freshman – he said he anticipates to compete for playing time early.
“This is a team that’s up-and-coming,” Jones said. “They need big playmakers. It’s a big opportunity for me to help UCLA get back on top. That was a big part of my decision, knowing they don’t have one dominant back yet is another opportunity to show how good I am and get opportunities as a freshman.”
If his first year in Westwood is anything like his last year at Oaks Christian, he just might get those opportunities.
Jones has 870 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns for the 4-0 Lions, ranked first in the state and third in the nation by Maxpreps.com. His success is nothing new.
As a freshman: California State Freshman of the Year.
As a sophomore: 2,315 total yards, 29 touchdowns, state sophomore of the year.
As a junior: 1,844 yards, 32 touchdowns (playing mostly first-halves), runner-up state junior of the year.
But now, Jones owns another role.
Recruiter.
He said he is about to become UCLA’s biggest salesman.
“I hope that me committing can get a lot of big-time names to come to UCLA, to not be afraid of losing,” Jones said. “I have to start looking and seeing who’s looking at UCLA and try to convince them, too.”
He is, after all, in it for the long haul.
There will be no flip-flopping coming that one fateful day, Feb. 3. National Signing Day.
“No, not at all,” Jones maintains. “It’s set for me. It’s set in stone.”

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On Instinct with Malcolm Jones

Just as much as he uses his instincts on the football field, Oaks Christian senior running back Malcolm Jones is using his instincts off the field.
After recently narrowing his college choice to UCLA and Stanford, Jones told me today that both schools are putting on a pretty good push toward the end.
“These were two of the first schools to recruit me,” Jones said. “Both of the schools have been emailing me more and calling me, and I’m really close to making my decision. I have one more trip to each school, and I should have my decision end of September maybe.”
If the decision has weighed on him, it certainly did not show on Friday night, in the Lion’s 28-17 win over Alemany.
Jones had 275 yards on 37 carries, scoring three times.
The instincts paid off.
He hopes they will again.
“It’s really up to me; I need to pick my good instinct,” Jones said. “What’s really important to me is first, the academics of the school, but also the coaching staff.”
Jones was scheduled to attend UCLA’s season opener with San Diego State on Saturday, but could not. He watched the game at home. He watched Derrick Coleman break runs of 31 and 29 yards. He watched Johnathan Franklin break a 12-yard touchdown run.
He watches, and it was tough.
“A little bit, when you see a school you’re watching, and the position play really well, you get a little worried,” Jones said. “But it just makes me want to go out and prove how good I am.”
How good is still up for debate.
Jones is rated the No. 6 running back by Scout.com as one of six major D-1 recruits from Oaks Christian. Recruiters haunt the school all the time, preying on the stars, praying they land one.
But, Jones said, he pays little attention.
It is UCLA and it is Stanford and the list ends there.
If heavily recruited running back Anthony Barr of Loyola commits as well, so be it.
“It’s pretty firm with just UCLA and Stanford,” Jones said. “Either school is going to get good recruits. (If Barr chooses UCLA) two better players going to UCLA, that’s how I look at it.”

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Four for Four with Malcolm Jones – Hawaii Edition

I stole some time away from the beach in Hawaii to chat quickly with Oaks Christian running back Malcolm Jones.
Jones, you remember, is Scout.com’s No. 3 running back in the class of 2010, a power back with fantastic numbers (141 carries for 1,600 yards and 26 touchdowns while playing mostly only first halves) and a great work ethic.
Recently, Jones narrowed his list of potential colleges to Stanford and UCLA.

Here’s what Malcolm had to say:

Are UCLA and Stanford just at the top of your list, or is it just them two?
“I’m pretty much set on one of those two teams,” Jones said. “Both of them offer a really good education and both are teams who are on the rise and going to be good in the next couple years. I kind of want to be with a team that is still building up and needs exposure.”

Jim Harbaugh and Rick Neuheisel have similar backgrounds – college stars, pro quarterbacks, young coaches. Who would you rather play for?
“Either coach I’d love to play for,” Jones said. “They’re both young, exciting coaches who have a lot of enthusiasm. But right now, it’s the position coaches who are calling me the most.”

Why have UCLA and Stanford jumped to the top of the list?
“That’s the thing; those two schools said they needed me,” Jones said. “The other schools said they want me. These guys need me. That’s what separates them. The coaches and I both know I can make an early impact on both of those schools.”

How soon can we expect a decision?
“I’m hoping to make a decision in the next couple months,” Jones said. “September at least, maybe this month. Right now, its 50/50. Both schools are really good, and it’s really hard to decide. I don’t know if either school can do anything to push me forward. Right now, it’s a mental thing for me.”

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Malcolm Jones in the house

Superstar running back Malcolm Jones of nearby Oaks Christian (Westlake Villiage) entered the practice facility and immediately caught the attention of Rick Neuheisel. Neuheisel, who was engaged in a conversation with two gentlemen, excused himself, walked straight to Jones and warmly embraced him.
Minutes later, Neuheisel brought Norm Chow to Jones, and the two enjoyed some playful banter.
If this kid isn’t the main focus of the Bruins’ recruiting intentions – and as the No. 11 prospect in the country by Rivals, he should be – then you could have fooled me.

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