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Gone Catfishin’: QB Akeem Jones Not Coming to Syracuse, No SU Offer

Miami Herald

(Update: 3:33p) Well, scratch that whole “Akeem Jones to Syracuse” thing. For those that might not be aware of my new life, I host the overnight show for CBS Sports Radio Network now (which, shameless plug, can be heard on The Score 1260 2a-6a in Syracuse). So, I usually crash after the show and wake up around this time… and what do I find out when I turn my phone on? Oh yeah, you know that Jones character I waxed poetic about last night? Yeah, well he’s “weaved what now appears be an elaborate series of mistruths in an interview with The Post-Standard” according to Michael Cohen of the PS. Oh, well that’s just grrrrreat.

Here’s what his head coach Harold Barnwell at Carol City told The Fizz on NSD, “Marshall is out of the picture. It will come down to Syracuse and Louisiana Lafayette.” So in the wake of the Mantei T’eo nonsense, everything bears questioning. Did he ever even have a scholarship offer from SU? According to CuseNation.com he was told he had an offer if either Austin Wilson or Mitch Kimble did not accept. This makes complete sense, since Jones wasn’t even ranked by all the major recruiting services. SU also has a glut of players at the QB position (as noted in my previous post about Akeem), and three signal callers in the same class seems much. Jones also insisted SU recruited him as a QB-only, which seems dubious now considering he also split time at wide receiver last year.

Was his coach aware of this dynamic when he made his comments to us? You would think so. It’s hard to imagine George McDonald, who does so much work and built so many relationships in Florida, not being up front to the head coach of an important program like Carol City.

It was also reported that Jones took a visit to Syracuse last weekend, and Barnwell told us, “He loved it. The coaches were great, he loved everything about it. Coach McDonald and the coaches enjoyed having him. They like that he is a good kid and presents himself well.” Are we sure he actually took a visit? Do we have to double check with Roniah Tuiasasopo on that one?

The quote I singled in on from Jones’ conversation with the P-S (who actually sent Cohen down to his high school on NSD) was this: “Once I get out (of Florida), I ain’t coming back. I might come visit every now and then, but that’s it.” Seems like a young man who has been through an extraordinary amount (although some of that may now fairly be questioned), desperately looking for a lifeline out of his roughneck neighborhood. He hoped it was through Syracuse. It’s not. And he couldn’t bear to admit it. Jones did tell CuseNation.com that he had not been in contact with the SU coaches since January 30.

There is one quote that I cited in my post last night about Jones that now really stands out. It’s from SouthFloridaHighSchoolSports.com“The 6-foot-3 athlete almost lost his life in February of 2008 during a robbery.” There were no other details than that, which struck me as a little odd when I read it. Did he suffer life-threatening injuries? Was there a police shoot out? What exactly transpired? Makes you wonder how much of his entire story is a fabrication.

I feel bad for Cohen and the P-S. I mean, the guy was actually in their cafeteria watching this charade go down and being lied to. All I did was write a stupid post from my laptop in New York. Guess you never know what you’re going to find when you wake up. -D.A.

* * *

Add a third quarterback to the Class of ’13 mix for Syracuse, as Akeem Jones signs his letter of intent to play for the Orange. SU already had Mitch Kimble and Austin Wilson as part of the 20-player class, but add the athletic Jones into the Orange stew and let’s see what we get.

He was deciding between SU and Louisiana-Lafayette, which ironically pulled in one-time Syracuse target LB Simeon Thomas. But the farther away from his home of South Florida the better for Jones. He has far more perspective than many students his age. He suffered life-threatening injuries during a robbery attempt in ’08, and his mother removed him from a neighborhood of drugs, violence, and crime by sending him to spend time in Georgia.

But the distance and difference in atmosphere is part of what drew Akeem to SU.

“Syracuse really blew my mind. I had never seen snow. It was my first time ever seeing snow, it’s New York, it’s a different environment. It’s not this. This is what I’m used to.”

If you’ve ever been to Carol City, Florida you know how rough that environment was for Akeem. How’s this for level-headed?

“Once I get out, I ain’t coming back. I might come visit every now and then, but that’s it.”

That’s a unique viewpoint for an 18-year old, most of whom have an undying loyalty to the people and places they grew up around. How often do we see young, hardened athletes “represent” where they’re from, no matter how raw the life is? It’s difficult to detach from your roots, especially for college students who have only known one way of life.

But Jones is jazzed for a fresh start, and Orange Nation is excited about another quarterback possibility. The loss of Ryan Nassib is obviously huge, and a first-year coordinator in George McDonald only assures some growing pains. So who takes over the reigns?

There’s Charlie Loeb, John Kinder and Terrel Hunt as veterans ready to compete for it. You have to figure Ashton Broyld will continue to be used as a Wildcat option or jack-of-all trades, but not the starting QB. But now you add Kimble, Wilson and Jones – and with possible redshirts for any of those guys, SU has given itself a lot of options over the next 5 years.

The 6’2″ 220 lb. Jones says he was recruited as a quarterback, not just an athlete. But unlike Wilson or Kimble he has experience playing other places. He split time under center and at wideout this season. So maybe there’s a way to contribute immediately without having to be the every down quarterback. And there’s always players that never predict a position switch until they get on campus. Has anyone seen Max Beaulieu’s tight end gloves?

No matter what, this is a good final signing for SU. The class was relatively small and if you have the extra scholarship available, why not use it on a player with a good head, and natural athletic gifts? Who knows, the last piece of the ’13 class may one day end up to be the most important.

Posted: D.A.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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