By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - With an announcement date set in stone for February 5th (next Wednesday, "National Signing Day"), Minneapolis Washburn star running back Jeff Jones appears to continue his lean towards the Golden Gophers as his landing spot for the 2014 season.
Jones gave a verbal commitment to Jerry Kill and the Gophers last February but reserved the right to keep his recruiting options open during his senior season. And what a season it was!
A four year starter at Washburn, Jones followed up a phenomenal Sophomore campaign (1310 yards rushing, 18 rushing TDs and 10 receiving TDs) with a very respectable Junior season (1,002 yards and 10 rushing TDs) and then capped it off with a stellar Senior season (1523 yards rushing, 493 yards receiving and 44 total touchdowns). All-in-all, Jones' high school career will end with 4,668 yards and 92 career touchdowns!
Currently grading out as a 4-star recruit, Jones is far and away the best running back in the state of Minnesota and is considered to be the 12th best running back in the nation according to most reports. With an offer from Minnesota on the table, Jones has also received official offers from Iowa State, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Syracuse and Wisconsin (Jones has also received interest but no offer from Tennessee, Boise St., Nebraska, Notre Dame and Oregon). That said, Jones has trimmed it down to five finalists whom he will be deciding between during next Wednesday's announcement in the Washburn gymnasium.
Those finalists include Iowa State, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee and the University of Minnesota.
While the official decision remains under lock and key within the Jones household, sources close to KFAN are reporting that Jones will announce his intentions to remain in the state of Minnesota and dawn the maroon and gold for his collegiate career. Jeff will become the Gophers first 4-star recruit to commit for the 2014 recruiting class and will be the first 4-star commit for Kill since landing three (Isaac Hayes, Jamel Harbison and Andre McDonald) in 2012.
On top of our intel, the Star Tribune is also reporting that Jones' coach Giovan Jenkins also believes that Jones will land as a Gopher.
Heading into the 2014 season, the Gophers will be armed with two seniors (David Cobb & Donnell Kirkwood) in the backfield leaving room for Jones and fellow running back recruit Rodney Smith (3-star recruit who committed to Minnesota last week) with a great opportunity to find playing time as early as the 2015 season.
However, with the announcement less than a week away, one hurdle remains for Jones and the Gophers, academic eligibility. Currently, Jones would not be academically eligible for a division-1 scholarship at the University of Minnesota as he has fallen 1-point shy on his latest ACT score. Jones will retake the test on February 8th and will have two more chances to pass if he comes up short next weekend.
The recent additions of wide receivers Isaiah Gentry (Cincinnati, OH) and Melvin Holland Jr (Ashburn, VA) have bumped the Gophers up to 9th in the latest Big Ten Recruiting Index. Rest assured that officially landing Jones will help bump them up even a little higher.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Gophers updates and breaking Gophers news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN