Two years ago, one of the top players in Missouri was tight end Chase Coffman. People for some reason questioned how a tight end from the Show Me State could be considered one of the nation's elite prospects. However, Coffman has proved people wrong by becoming one of the most dominant tight ends in the Big 12.
In the class of 2008, there's another Missouri tight end that is drawing rave reviews a lot like Coffman did. His name is Andrew Jones of Smithville, Mo., and the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder already has an impressive list of scholarship offers.
"I don't know if you can say I'm the top player in Missouri or not," Jones said. "I don't know because I've not see too many other guys. But I think I should deserve to be up there. I feel like I'm a pretty good player. I'm confident in my skills and ability."
Jones, who already has more than 500 yards receiving this season, is flattered by the comparisons to Coffman. Both are tall – in the 6-6 range – and both are from suburban Kansas City high schools. And just like Coffman, Smith has the ability to go up and get the football.
"I've been really watching the way that Coffman plays at Missouri and how they use their tight ends," Jones said. "It's amazing the way he gets open. I can jump up and get the ball. That's probably my biggest strength."
Jones said football didn't always come easy to him. He started playing in the seventh grade and by the time he was a freshman, he was a skinny 6-3, 190-pounder.
"I was always bigger in some fashion, even when I was little," he said. "I went from normal tall, to really fat, and then to really skinny. I've now put on 40 pounds since my freshman year. I was a 6-3, 190-pound freshman that was always getting beat up. Now, I'm the one that's doing the beating up."
Jones said he was an average player in middle school, but it was after his sophomore season that he started to realize that he had the ability to play football in college.
"Coach started getting a ton of phone calls after my sophomore season," he said. "That's kind of when the possibility of all this started to sink in. I'm excited about what might happen. The recruiting process has been fun so far."
As it should be.
Jones already has racked up scholarship offers from Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas State, Kansas and Wisconsin.
He attended a game earlier this fall at Kansas State for the Louisville game, and enjoyed his time there. He also made the trip to Dallas last weekend to watch Oklahoma play Texas in the Red River Shootout.
"I liked what I saw at K-State," Jones said. "The news coaches are pretty cool. I went to the Cotton Bowl this weekend. It was a lot of fun, and it was a great game.
"Both teams are really talented. They had four-star guys playing special teams. The atmosphere was nuts. The fans were really going at each other. They weren't too out of control. I think that was just the way they are. It was a pretty impressive visit."
Jones first popped up on Oklahoma's radar screen after an impressive performance at its summer camp. He walked away with an oral offer from the Sooner coaches and he's been talking with Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson pretty consistently ever since.
"It was a lot of fun to hang out with all the coaches at the camp," Jones said. "I'm being recruited by Kevin Wilson. He's really tight and upfront with you. He was texting me after the game Saturday, and said he would really like to have a guy like me to game plan with."
But just like Coffman, it looks like it's going to be tough to pull Jones out of state.
Coffman eventually picked Missouri over Kansas State and others, and Jones said the Tigers have been a team he always grew up watching.
"I'm pretty partial to Missouri," he said. "I really haven't loved everybody, so this recruiting process is all new to me. I've lived in the same house since I was born, and I've always watched Missouri. I like how they use their tight ends and it seems like they're got a good thing going on this season."
Jones is also tight with Missouri pledge and North Kansas City offensive lineman Jayson Palmgren. He said they talk on a very regular basis and he wouldn't mind being teammates with him in the future. However, like Coffman did, don't be surprised if he enjoys the recruiting process some.
And don't be surprised if Jones makes as big of an impact as Coffman did when he arrives on the next level.