Minneapolis Washburn running back Jeff Jones, a coveted recruit for the Gophers, confirmed Tuesday that he plans to announce his college decision on national signing day, Feb. 5.
Jones, rated the nation’s No. 44 recruit by Rivals.com, made a verbal commitment to the Gophers last February but has kept his recruiting options open. Jones said his five finalists are Minnesota, Iowa State, Florida, Michigan and Tennessee. Michigan State had been on his list, but the Spartans have two running back commitments and recently told Jones they won’t be seeking more.
Jones has made official visits to Minnesota and Iowa State. He will visit Florida on Friday and Michigan on Jan. 31. He won’t be visiting Tennessee but said the coaches have been working on him.
The decision, Jones said, “is going to come down to the relationship with the coaches, and the trust we’re able to build.”
Asked for his gut feeling, Washburn coach Giovan Jenkins said, “I like the relationship that [Jones] has built up with Minnesota. They’ve done a great job. They were in on him first and early and often. They are well within their contact limits, and they do a good job making sure that Jeff knows where he stands with them and their staff.
“They’ve never left me guessing or him. And in terms of a relationship already built and established, it’s going to be very hard for anybody to come in in the 13th hour and make up the ground they’ve already made up in the two, three years they’ve known the man.”
Jones has yet to qualify academically for a Division-I scholarship, but he is close. He is within a point of getting a qualifying ACT score and plans to retake the test Feb. 8. Jenkins said if Jones does not qualify on this try, Jones would have two more chances to take the test.