with video: Linebacker recruit Kellen Jones confirms commitment to Michigan football team
For Michigan football recruit Kellen Jones, the news that former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will fill the same position with the Wolverines is music to his ears.
And to his cell phone.
Barely an hour after the announcement Wednesday that Mattison was hired by new football coach Brady Hoke, Jones - a 6-1 208 pound linebacker from St. Pius X High School in Houston - said he received phone calls from friends and family about the man who has led one of the NFL’s most feared defenses the past two seasons.
Mattison now will be charged with restoring the reputation of a once-proud defensive tradition at Michigan.
Jones, rated the 28th-best linebacker by Rivals.com, said he can’t wait to be part of that process.
“Yes sir, it makes me feel very good that the defense will get back to the way it used to be,” Jones said. “Back to being a top defense in the country.”
Mattison and Jones have shared the same sideline once before. On Dec. 13, Jones had the opportunity to meet his favorite player, Ray Lewis, when the Ravens played the Houston Texans.
Florida State Heisman trophy winner Charlie Ward - who is now a high school coach at Westbury Christian in Houston - arranged the meeting as a favor for Jones’ father, who is an associate of Ward’s and member of the same fraternity, Omega Si Phi.
“It was great to meet (Lewis). I was going nuts,” Jones said. “It was an honor to meet him. It was all thanks to Mr. Ward.”
“I got a chance to talk with him and he was telling me how he studies and how to get ahead. So if I get confused by something coach Mattison is teaching us, maybe I can get a hold of Mr. Lewis and he can help me,” Jones said with a laugh.
Jones said he assured running backs coach Fred Jackson on Monday that he intended to honor his verbal commitment to Michigan when Jackson visited Texas. Jones did the same over the phone recently with Hoke.
Jones visited the University of Colorado last weekend on an official visit, but said that was more of a courtesy to that coaching staff, which he said had treated him well during the recruiting process.
Though Jones said that now he’s positive he wants to be in Ann Arbor in the fall, he admitted that the uncertainty following the firing of Rich Rodriguez concerned him.
“I’m not going to lie, I was nervous, was a little worried with the program with who they were going to choose,” Jones said.
One of Jones’ past experiences with a coaching change made him weary. Georgia Tech had shown interest in him prior to hiring defensive coordinator Al Groh last year, but not since. After speaking with Jackson and Hoke, he said he was assured that wasn’t the case at Michigan.
“After talking to Coach Hoke, I’m definitely going to stay with Michigan,” Jones said.