There aren't a lot of Colorado kids who would call Michigan their dream school, but luckily for Ed Warinner and U-M, 6-7, 290-pound Connor Jones is one of them.
The Monument (Colo.) Palmer Ridge offensive tackle isn't originally from the state of Michigan, and never had some world changing experience at The Big House, but some family roots resulted in him loving the winged helmet.
"My dad is originally from Ohio and he actually grew up a Michigan fan," Jones explained. "So the games were always on and he would talk about Michigan and all about the program. It was just a natural thing for me to follow, be a fan and watch all the greats.
"He’s pretty pumped. He’s super excited for this opportunity for me! Probably the best Christmas for him."
The interest in Michigan started a long time ago for Jones but the idea of playing in Ann Arbor became a real possibility when he was offered on September 1. Obviously this year has been very weird for recruits, but Jones managed to make his way to Ann Arbor last weekend and got to experience what life would be like at U-M.
"The self guided visit was good from the perspective that I could take my time with looking at the campus and seeing how it be getting from one place to the next," Jones said. "The down part was not being able to see the facilities first hand. Also being able to chat with some of the locals and get their take on Ann Arbor was pretty cool.
"We had breakfast at Dimo’s Saturday morning and that was great. Dimo is a legit guy. The folks there were very welcoming and friendly. We had lunch at Mr. Spots and I can see why that’s Tom Brady’s spot — great food and atmosphere. We wanted to hit up The Brown Jug, but that will be for another time. Overall, great college town with a small town feel."
Even though Jones didn't get to spend any time with the coaches during his visit, he still feels like he has a great relationship with Ed Warinner and Jim Harbaugh. Those relationships made him feel very comfortable with the idea of playing for the Wolverines.
"My relationship with Coach Warinner is really good," Jones said. "He’s a great coach and has developed a lot of dudes, which is exciting for me and my goal to get to the league. We chat almost on a daily basis. He's keeping me informed and building a solid relationship."
Of course you can't talk to a prospective future Michigan football player without asking about Harbaugh's future and what that all means in their mind. Jones has heard the rumblings, but obviously didn't let that affect his decision.
"My personal vibe is good with the coaches," he said. "The connection has been real good. As far as all the other stuff, that’s above me, so I'm not really focusing on that. I’m focusing on what I can do and control. Everything else will workout how it is supposed to."
Once the visit was over, Jones realized that Michigan checked all of his boxes and that he didn't need to look around anymore.
"My factors have been this from the start," Jones said. "1. Got to have my degree plan, which is sports medicine/kinesiology. 2. I want to be at a university that will best develop me for the next level in football and life. 3. It needs to feel as close to a home feel for me, the town, the relationships, all that.
"Michigan has always been my dream school. At the gym I train at, Coach Matt McChesney asks at the start what our top five schools are. Michigan was who I put as my No. 1. That list evolved as I started to research schools and look at what they offered as far as degrees, but Michigan always remained in the top spot.
"My mom and dad said that I needed to visit some of the schools to see with my own eyes. After this weekend’s trip, it was confirmed. Ann Arbor reminds me of my home town of Monument and Colorado Springs. The people we ran into in AA were friendly and very supportive and that was a pretty good feeling. That was really the missing part for me. They have a top kinesiology program and obviously they position guys well, especially offensive line guys, for the league."
Jones still has another year of high school left, but he already can't wait to get to Ann Arbor. With a training partner, fellow Coloradan and friend in Reece Atteberry already at U-M, Jones is excited to start that chapter. Jones also intends to recruit the four other prospects in the 2022 class from Colorado who hold a Michigan offer.