Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy: Ex-UA linebacker's twins imagine scenario of building Hogs legacy
Arkansas linebacker J.J. Jones celebrates after making a tackle during a game against Southwest Louisiana on Saturday, Sept. 5, 1998, in Fayetteville.
There have been several family legacies in Arkansas Razorbacks football history, and there might be another in the making with former University of Arkansas, Fayetteville linebacker J.J. Jones and his two sons.
Jones signed with Arkansas out of Magnolia and lettered from 1996-2000 before signing as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys, making it to the last cut before the season. He was picked up by New Orleans the next year and played two seasons with the Saints.
His twin sons, Jai and Jalen, were standout freshman linebackers at South Oak Cliff High in Dallas this past season.
Jai Jones, 6-0, 215 pounds, has the makings of an elite prospect and already has earned scholarship offers from Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech, Bowling Green and Alabama A&M. Jalen Jones, 5-10, 195, is a promising prospect himself.
The brothers have grown up around the Razorbacks program while accompanying their father to Fayetteville.
"They've been going up there since they were like five," the elder Jones said. "Anytime I've been up there for the alumni weekend and spring game, I took them with me. They enjoy going to Fayetteville. They get to see all of the facilities and get to meet the coaches and all of the former players."
Jai shows a suddenness and explosive burst to the ball that's indicative of a top-caliber prospect. Jones said Jai is bigger than he was at a similar age.
"I didn't hit 215 until my junior year in high school," Jones said.
South Oak Cliff defensive coordinator Kyle Ward said Jai is a rare talent for his age.
"Jai is a kid that has a rare mix of size and balance at his position that's mixed with a certain amount of physicality," Ward said. "Very sudden, very explosive. One of the clips people talk about is he caught an interception and you can see him hit another gear."
Jai played the first four games with the freshman team before moving up to varsity and recording 32 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.
Jalen also moved up to varsity after the fourth game and had 21 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 2 recovered fumbles.
"He sorts things out really fast, understands the game, very good attention to detail," Ward said of Jalen. "Their playing styles are different, where Jalen will diagnose and try and figure out how I'm going to make this tackle."
Jai and Jalen likely will continue to grow being that J.J. was 6-2, 230, at Arkansas and their mother, Paula, is 5-10. The elder Jones said Jalen is the same size he was in the ninth grade.
Arkansas has a special place in Jai's heart after hanging out with his father in Fayetteville over the years.
"With my father being a Razorback alum, it makes Fayetteville a special place for us," Jai said. "We have been able to meet former players and talk to coaches.
"The main benefit from it is he is able to prepare us to be an SEC linebacker. He shows us how to watch film and read guards. He shows us how to play 110 percent because the SEC will not slow down for us."
Jalen said he and his brother learned to call the Hogs at an early age.
"We use to watch his old film, and we heard it and he told us about it and that's when we started doing it like when we were six," Jalen said.
The brothers took part in an Arkansas camp last summer.
"I feel like I'm at home, really," Jalen said. "I hope to play there one day and follow his footsteps."
Jalen hopes to build a legacy at Arkansas.
"My kids could go there and make a name, and let the Jones family be known at the University of Arkansas," Jalen said.
J.J. stays in touch with director of high school and NFL relations Bobby Allen, who was an assistant at Arkansas for Jones' last three years.
"He knows the boys," Jones said.
Seeing his sons play at a school he loves would be special to Jones.
"It would definitely be a proud papa moment with me being a graduate alumni from there, and my wife got her master's from there, and my dad actually graduated from the University of Arkansas," Jones said.
Email Richard Davenport at email@example.com
Sports on 05/06/2018
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