Ol' College Try
Top prospects across the country are making official visits. Here's a diary of one player's whirlwind weekend
SENIOR WIDE receiver Marvin Jones of Etiwanda (Calif.) High, who is rated No. 14 in the nation at his position by rivals.com, narrowed his college choices to Cal and Oregon. The 6'2", 185-pound speedster was all-state as a junior and this season has 46 receptions for 593 yards and four touchdowns for the Eagles (3--3). Jones made his official visit to Oregon on Sept. 29—"I liked it even more than I thought I would," he says—and went to Cal last Saturday. Here's how his trip to Berkeley went.
• Saturday, 5 a.m.
Jones and his father, Marvin Sr., depart their house in Fontana to catch a flight out of Ontario International Airport.
October 21, 2007
• 9:30 a.m.
They are met at Oakland International Airport by Cal recruiting assistants Andrew McGraw and Kevin Parker and driven in a Suburban to the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. After checking into his room, Jones is taken to the Doubletree Hotel near the Oakland marina, where the Cal players stay the night before home games.
• 10:15 a.m.
Jones meets wide receivers coach Dan Ferrigno, and they walk along the marina. "We were looking across at the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, and Coach Ferrigno was just telling me about himself and where he'd coached before," Jones recalls.
• 11 a.m.
After a brief chat with junior wideout DeSean Jackson, Jones joins the Bears for their pregame meal in one of the hotel ballrooms. "Man, it was a lot of good food," Jones says. "Chicken and pasta and potatoes."
• 12 noon At a team meeting, coach Jeff Tedford introduces Jones, the only visiting recruit, and shows a video. "It was meant to get everyone hyped," Jones says. "It was all the big plays and big hits from the season."
• 1 p.m.
Parker drives Jones to Memorial Stadium. On a balcony above the entrance, they watch fans greet the players as they walk from the bus into the stadium, a tradition at Cal known as the March to Victory.
• 1:45 p.m.
Jones visits the equipment room, where a manager has laid out on a table all the gear that a Bears player receives—and each piece of this equipment is branded with a 3, Jones's number. The manager describes to Jones the new jersey design that Cal will wear next year. "A mix of old school and new school," Jones says. "Real nice."
• 2:30 p.m.
Parker gives Jones a tour of the library, then brings him to the stadium in time to hear Tedford's pregame speech. The coach's message: Don't underestimate Oregon State.
• 5:15 p.m.
Jones watches the first half from the sixth row of the stands opposite the Bears' bench. At halftime he visits Tedford's private skybox, where he meets athletic director Sandy Barbour and eats—in order—chicken, steak, a chicken kabob, steak, shrimp, cupcakes and candy. He returns to the stands for the second half.
• 7:45 p.m.
After the unranked Beavers hold off a last-second attempt by Cal to send the game into overtime, upsetting the No. 2 Bears 31--28, Jones visits the locker room to hear Tedford console his team. Jones then meets his player-host, freshman wide receiver Michael Calvin.
• 8:15 p.m.
Jones and Calvin relax in the player's dorm room. "It's important that the rooms aren't too small," Jones says. "These rooms were big. It was more like an apartment."
• 10 p.m.
The two meet a group of Calvin's friends at a dorm party with the theme All Black, meaning that everyone had to be decked out in that color. "I was wearing a black shirt, which was just lucky," Jones says. "It wasn't a big party, but it was cool."
• Sunday, 1:30 a.m.
Jones arrives back at his hotel and goes to sleep.
• 9:20 a.m.
Ferrigno wakes up Jones and takes him to the stadium. They go to the coach's video room and review footage of Cal's pass routes and talk about how Jones would fit into the offense. "Coach Ferrigno talked about things I could do now to make myself better," Jones says.
• 10 a.m.
Jones and his father meet Tedford in his office. Tedford speaks about the value of a Cal degree; they talk about what Jones is looking for in a school. Afterward, the following conversation occurs.
Tedford: "When are you thinking about making a decision?"
Jones: "In my mind, I know the decision. I want to come here."
Tedford: "So, when are you going to make a final decision?"
Jones: "I just made it."
Tedford: "Is this a commit?"
Tedford: "Wow. That just made this weekend a whole lot better."
• 10:30 a.m.
Tedford leads Jones out of his office and announces to the waiting Ferrigno, "We got a Bear here!"
• 11 a.m.
Jones returns to the hotel, eats brunch ("Seven hours later I was still full from that meal," he says) and meets with Mark Jensen, director of football student-athlete development. "We went over my grades and talked about what I needed to do to make sure I could get admitted to Cal," Jones says. "Mark played at Cal, so he could answer questions I had about being a student and a football player there."
• 1:30 p.m.
On the way to the airport Parker stops at a Cal university store, where Jones buys three sweatshirts, three T-shirts, sweatpants and a bumper sticker.
• 2:05 p.m.
Jones boards his flight, arriving home at 5 p.m.
Lasting impression: "I visited Oregon and I liked it, but it rains a lot there and it's farther away from my family. Cal just felt like home. It was where I felt like I could have a good relationship with my teammates and with Coach Ferrigno."
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Friday Night Lights
STANHOPE ELMORE (Millbrook, Ala.) at PRATTVILLE (Ala.), Oct. 19
It's a throwdown between two undefeated Class 6A powerhouses. The defending state champion Prattville Lions (8--0), led by QB Casey Weston (right), who has 1,080 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, and RB Justin Albert (734 rushing yards, 13 TDs), are averaging 41.6 points a game. The upset-minded Elmore Mustangs (7--0) answer with senior RB Tre Lewis, who has rushed for 1,015 yards and scored 18 TDs.
TEXAS DE IS BAYOU BOUND
Garland (Texas) senior defensive end Chancey Aghayere, rated No. 3 at his position by rivals.com, made an oral commitment to LSU last Saturday. The 6'4" 244-pounder has 4.7 speed, can bench 225 pounds and has been compared to the Eagles' Jevon Kearse for his blend of strength and explosiveness. For the Class 5A Owls (1--5) this season, Aghayere has 20 tackles (including two for loss) and two sacks.
The Warren Central Warriors (6--3) toppled Indiana's top-ranked team, Center Grove (8--1), in a 28--21 thriller last Friday night. All eyes were on Warriors running back Jewel Hampton, who leads the state with 214.4 rushing yards per game, and he lived up to the hype. The 5'10", 195-pound senior ran for 164 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown gallop with 1:31 to go, one of his three runs of 20 yards or longer. Despite the upset, Center Grove fans have something to look forward to: a potential rematch in the Class 5A semifinals next month.