Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 2/3/12
The great thing about recruiting is that sometimes, college coaches have to scrap to find some diamond in the rough that no other team has discovered. But others, there's a blue-chipper sitting right under their noses. Count Longhorn signee Cayleb Jones in the latter category. And count the Longhorns lucky that Jones was a simple sniff away. Texas typically casts its nets across the Lone Star State in an attempt to grab the best and brightest from a state that gushes forth talent like an oil well. But in order to find out about Jones, an Austin High standout, Texas coach Mack Brown just had to talk to his son-in-law. "My son-in-law, Marshall Wilson, even played at Austin High," Brown said. "So hes a big Austin High fan. And he was talking about Cayleb in the seven-on-sevens when he was seven-years old or something. So Ive heard Caylebs name mentioned forever." The Longhorns became even better acquainted with Jones through a recruitment that didn't work out: Jones's cousin and Auburn wide receiver Emory Blake. "Our relationship with Cayleb really started with Emory," Brown said. "Emory Blake was a young man we recruited, and he went to Auburn. But Cayleb was kind of like a little brother and hung around all the time. You kept hearing about Cayleb. "Id see him watching the local TV stuff," Brown continued. "You always see him playing. Its funny with recruiting, Id drive by his field every Friday night when he was playing on my way home and couldnt stop to look, but I could hear the cheers from my front porch." Jones's proximity to Brown's front porch, and the Longhorns' need for a big, play-making wide receiver, made Jones one of the Longhorns' top priorities in the 2012 class. And they didn't have to work very hard to get him. "There are so many good reasons to go to Texas," Jones said. "But the main one is that I just felt comfortable there. I feel like it's such a great school, and that's where I want to be." Jones said his desire to put on a Texas uniform was amplified when he met wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt. After a 5-7 2010 season, Texas cleaned house, largely changing the staff. And the only member of the coaching staff that Jones knew was Brown. "I didn't know the base coaches and the offensive coordinator," Jones said. "So meeting Coach Wyatt, Coach Bryan Harsin and Coach Manny Diaz, forming relationships with all those guys, it was so big for me." And Jones became a big get for the Longhorns. Not only did Jones impress on the field, snagging 59 passes for 1,025 yards and nine touchdowns in leading Austin High to the playoffs, but the 6-foot-3 Prep All-American made a big impact off it as well. As an early commitment and "the local guy", Jones helped to recruit several other players to join the Longhorns. He even coined the class's popular rallying call Texas Gang Or Die along with quarterback Connor Brewer, based off T.G.O.D., a phrase created by rapper Wiz Khalifa. Texas Gang Or Die became the class slogan, often shouted by a recruit online after committing to play for the Longhorns. But Jones was more than just a slogan master. When other players would make their visits, Jones would travel over to the dorms to hang out. And now that Brewer has moved in from Scottsdale, Ariz., the two, who have become close through the recruiting process, hang out every weekend. "I do feel like we're a very close class," Jones said. "It's an advantage to us because we commit so early. That's how it's kind of set up. We always read about each other, but I felt like this time, we weren't just reading about each other, we actually got to hang out at a lot of different camps. "It was really big for us to meet and become a group of friends," Jones said. "We know we're going to be together the rest of our lives." Jones said there was a state pride that came across from the various in-state recruits that he felt. "When you think of the state of Texas, you think of the University of Texas," Jones said. "We feel like we need to bring that back up to par. They did that this year, and we're going to continue it next year. It's up to us to represent." Jones is certainly capable of playing his part sooner rather than later. Rated as the nation's No. 3 wide receiver and a five-star prospect by Scout.com, Jones had more than 3,000 yards receiving and 27 touchdowns over his illustrious career, meaning that he would have been noticed by the Longhorns regardless of where he grew up. "Cayleb has great ability," Brown said. "He is tall and fast. He is very strong. His dad played for the Cowboys. Cayleb is a young man who wanted to come to Texas his whole life." That helped the Longhorns overcome overtures from all the other schools in-state, as well as Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame and Oklahoma. And Brown, who described Jones as "having a great smile," said Jones's proximity to campus would have other advantages. "Being in town, he will be able to come out to spring practice and watch," Brown said. "We are really excited about Cayleb." Unfortunately, Jones said that proximity would also have a negative effect: the talented receiver said he's ready to hit the 40 Acres as soon as possible, and is "bummed" he'll have to wait. "It's exciting to officially be a Longhorn," Jones said. "I'm bummed I have to go to school at Austin High tomorrow. I wish I could go to school at UT tomorrow. But I'm so excited. They can call me whenever now, we don't have to worry about all the contact rules. So I'm really happy. "I'm excited to be a part of the Longhorn family," Jones said. "I'm going to prove myself and be a great player. I'm leaving all those accomplishments, all that other stuff, right here. That's over with."
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