One of the first times Bishop Gorman football coach Tony Sanchez met Alize Jones, the tight end was wearing a UCLA T-shirt.
“UCLA is his dream school,” Sanchez said. “It’s always where he wanted to go. I think that’s why he committed so early.”
Jones, a 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pound junior, announced Sunday on Twitter that he made an oral commitment to UCLA. Jones’ commitment is nonbinding and he cannot sign a national letter of intent until February 2015. UCLA’s coaches cannot comment about Jones until that time.
“I built a great relationship with (the coaches),” Jones said Monday afternoon before the Gaels’ practice. “I felt like they were the main school that was showing me all the love. I just felt at home when I went there. I felt really comfortable and knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.”
Jones is ranked as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com and is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top tight ends in the class of 2015. He has 32 receptions for 547 yards and 10 touchdowns this season for the Gaels, who will host Palo Verde at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Sunset Region final with a berth in the Division I state championship game on the line.
Jones had a 6-yard touchdown reception in Gorman’s 52-7 victory over Arbor View in the region semifinals on Friday. He caught two TDs, including the game-winner with 31 seconds remaining, in the Gaels’ 20-17 win over Bergen Catholic (N.J.) on Sept. 21.
“He’s been recruited around the country, and that’s because he is so versatile,” Sanchez said. “There’s not many guys that can put their hand in the ground and line up as a wideout and be as effective at both. He’s got a huge ceiling. He’ll continue to get better next year and then through his college career.
“He’s going to be a 6-5, 255-pound kid that can run like a wideout. He just creates a lot of mismatch problems for people, and again, you can run the ball behind him, too.”
Jones, who attended a summer camp at UCLA, had 13 scholarship offers, according to Rivals.com. He chose the Bruins over offers from most of the Pacific-12 Conference along with Baylor, Georgia, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
“My uncle (former Minnesota Twins outfielder Shane Mack) played baseball (at UCLA), and he just kept telling me, ‘Man, you’re going to love it when you go down there,’ ” Jones said. “I did. I loved it down there in Westwood. I loved the weather, the culture, the campus. It’s just amazing. It’s wonderful down there.”
Jones made unofficial visits to Nebraska and Notre Dame this summer and attended the Bruins’ 38-33 loss to Arizona State on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Jones fits the mold of the pass-catching “hybrid” tight ends that have become popular across college football. He was especially impressed with the way Bruins offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone utilizes freshman tight end Thomas Duarte split out wide.
“Coach Mazzone actually came up with the word ‘hybrid’ for me. He just said, we’re going to switch it up and call you ‘Hybrid,’ ” Jones said. “I’m athletic. I think that’s something I’ll bring to that offense. My speed and quickness. My ability to use my size to go up for the ball at its highest point just like (former Notre Dame tight end) Tyler Eifert did.
“Tight end is starting to be a big piece of offenses now, especially in the NFL. I’m starting to see that a lot. Tight ends are flexed out a lot more because it’s just a mismatch. I like that.”