Jones gets ‘RKGs’ in first recruiting class

Published 12:02 am Sunday, February 10, 2008

The lifeblood of any college football program is recruiting.

A coach can do a lot, but if the players he recruited aren’t up to snuff, he won’t have much success.

The players a coach recruits don’t have to all be five star players or members of high school All-America teams. However, they must fit into the coach’s system and be willing to mold and adapt to what he wants.

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And that’s exactly what Alcorn State head coach Ernest Jones says he got with his first recruiting class that signed on National Signing Day Wednesday.

Jones signed 22 players, including 11 from the state of Mississippi, which was a priority for him and his coaching staff.

Jones told the crowd at his introductory press conference that he would personally go into every high school in the state looking for talent, and he said he did that, claiming he entered over 300 schools in the state between the day he was hired and Wednesday’s signing day.

“If there is a football player out there who is right for Alcorn State, we talked to him,” Jones told the crowd gathered at ASU’s signing day party on the Alcorn campus. “Some (high school) coaches were surprised to see us come into their school. Some told me ‘We haven’t seen Alcorn here in 10 years or longer.’”

Jones said he recruits what he calls RKGs, meaning “right kind of guys” for his program. And that’s exactly the kind of players he brought in with his first class, he said to the responsive crowd.

“These are men of character and integrity,” Jones said. “The first question I ask them when I talk to them has nothing to do with football. I ask them how they would represent me and the university and make their community better. You will be proud of these men. They are going to walk around the Alcorn campus with their pants pulled up and their shirts tucked in.”

Two players that have the character, integrity and football skills to fit into Jones’ Alcorn program are from right outside the gates of the school at Jefferson County High.

Quarterback Percy Turner and linebacker Shavikia Gaines were two players that Jones made a point to lock up quickly.

“They were right outside our gates,” Jones said. “There was no way we were going to lose him.”

In addition to signing Turner, the Braves also signed quarterback Aaron Shavers out of Detroit.

Both quarterbacks are mobile athletes who can run and throw with accuracy.

Landing two solid quarterbacks was important for Jones, as the Braves never could find any productivity at that position last year due to injury and inconsistency.

Alcorn used Chris Walker, Tony Hobson and Tim Buckley at the position last season, with little success, which was one of the main reasons the Braves struggled to the 2-8 record that got coach Johnny Thomas fired.

Jones was especially high on Turner, comparing him to a young Steve McNair and calling him “the next quarterback at Alcorn State.”

Jones said he had confidence in the current players at Alcorn State, and said the class of recruits was for the future.

“I believe in the men we have on campus now,” Jones told the crowd. “They’ve given me everything I was looking for. The guys we have now just needed a little push and some motivation.”

So as Jones tries to rebuild the proud tradition of the Alcorn State program, he seems to be off to a good start with his first recruiting class.

At least he thinks he got the “right kind of guys” in his program.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or