The following article is reprinted from a recent issue of SPARTAN Magazine. We will be running SPARTAN Magazine stories on selected members of the incoming recruiting class on SpartanMag.com today as part of national letter of intent signing day:
With his combination of size and speed, linebacker Greg Jones from Moeller High School in Cincinnati might have been a perfect candidate to play the bandit position in former Spartan head coach John L. Smith's defense.
As it is, the versatile Jones will give new head coach Mark Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi plenty of options.
Jones, who stands 6-foot and weighs 210 pounds, was a defensive end/outside linebacker for Moeller this fall. Jones possesses 4.6 speed in the 40 and is ranked the No. 21 prospect in Ohio and the No. 36 outside linebacker prospect in the country by Rivals.com.
"Greg is very athletic and is a very explosive player," said Moeller coach Bob Crable. "He may not have the best bench press or squat numbers, but he is an explosive player who can make plays. He went to a number of camps during the summer and in that setting it's sometimes difficult to see a player's instincts on the football field. Greg has very good instincts as a football player."
That combination of size, speed and smarts brought a number of recruiters to Moeller and initially Jones committed to Minnesota. When Golden Gopher head coach Glen Mason was let go following the Insight Bowl loss to Texas Tech Jones' college plans suddenly were scrambled and the door seemed to open wider for Michigan State and other schools in pursuit of the Moeller star.
Jones re-opened the recruiting process and shortly after visiting Michigan State he switched his commitment to the Spartans.
The fact that the new Spartan coaching staff knew Jones while they were at Cincinnati and that Jones and the Moeller staff held the new Spartan staff in high regard did not hurt the Spartan cause.
"We knew Coach Dantonio and his coaches from Cincinnati and we hold them in high esteem," said Crable, who played college football at Notre Dame and also played in the NFL for the New York Jets. "The way he deals with players and parents and coaches you can tell that Mark is genuine and honest."
Crable knows a thing or two about defensive players and he is certain that the Spartans are getting a player with plenty of upside.
"I think Greg has what it takes to play at the next level," said Crable. "Where he plays is up to the coaches. He can be a small outside linebacker or a big safety. As a linebacker he has the speed and quickness to drop into pass coverage or rush the quarterback. He is a very versatile player. He is also very hard working. His position will depend on how much weight he gains and how much speed he retains with added weight."
Crable also said that the previous coaching staff at Minnesota saw many of the same traits that the Spartans see in Jones.
"They (Minnesota) liked his speed and his ability to make plays," said Crable. "Almost everyone who recruited him saw the same thing. He is a playmaker."
Jones played almost exclusively on the defensive side of the ball for Moeller although he did make appearances at fullback for blocking purposes. His limited play at fullback did shed light on the type of football player he is, the type of defensive player Spartan fans came to expect during the late 80's and the 90's.
"He never carried the ball," said Crable. "We'd put him in there to block in short-yardage situations and he would knock someone's block off."
PLAYER: Greg Jones HT/WT/POS.: 6-1, 210, OLB HOMETOWN/SCHOOL: Cincinnati Moeller RANKING: No. 21 Ohio, No. 36 outside linebacker NOTABLE: Committed to Minnesota, then visited Michigan State after Glen Mason was fired, and committed to the Spartans.