There was a lot of fuss made — and in the case of the Georgia Bulldogs, a lot of distress — when longtime commitment and coveted recruit Broderick Jones “opened up” his recruitment back in December.
Turns out it was much ado about nothing.
The 5-star offensive tackle, who committed to UGA in 2018, followed through and signed with the Bulldogs during an assembly at Lithonia High School on Wednesday. He becomes a cornerstone piece of Georgia’s 2020 recruiting class, which was ranked No. 1 in the country coming into national signing day.
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Those who have known Jones longest suggest the Bulldogs should have never fretted. Loyalty is a dominant trait with Jones.
For years, other schools have tried to lure him because of his unique combination of size and quickness. But just as he chose to stick with the Lithonia Bulldogs, he chose to stick with the Georgia Bulldogs.
“The best thing I can say about Broderick is he has been solely committed to Lithonia High School,” said Wallace Corker, Jones’ basketball coach and counselor at the school. “He could have gone to a lot of different high schools, but he chose to remain here despite everybody pulling on him to go everywhere else. So that’s one thing you can say about him — he’s a committed kid.”
And so he was with Georgia as well. But it wasn’t easy.
Like so many before him, Jones grew extremely close to UGA offensive line coach Sam Pittman, and that’s who he committed to as a 10th-grader. But Pittman got an offer he couldn’t refuse when Arkansas offered him its head coaching job back in December. That’s when Jones — along with several other Georgia O-line commitments — decided to reopen their recruitment.
In January, Jones took an official visit to Arkansas, as well as one to Illinois and, of course, Georgia. But it was Auburn that was thought to be the most serious threat. The Tigers were able to set up the final official visit for Jones for the final weekend of winter recruiting cycle.
» MORE: Georgia’s 2020 recruiting class
Jones stood them up. He didn’t go.
That took most of the mystery out of the Wednesday’s ceremony, which brought the entire student body of Lithonia High to the gymnasium for his announcement, along with several TV news crews.
“I’m a Georgia boy,” said Jones, surrounded by family members on a stage at Lithonia High. “It’s a brand. I wanted to be able to play close to my family so they could come support me.”
Jones didn’t seem fazed by it all.
“My coaches have helped me out a lot,” he said in a recent interview in the Lithonia football office. “I just try to do what they tell me and stay on top of everything. I had a few in-home visits, but it’s mostly been at the school. Nothing major. The mail has been crazy. I definitely got a lot of mail.”
Jones said his mother, Tawana, set up a box at the front door of the house and directed to postal service to simply drop her son’s mail in there. It has been filled and emptied several times over.
Lithonia High football coach Marcus Jelks was the one charged with managing the madness that comes with college coaches from all over the country trying to get an audience with a teenager. He’d been through a similar experience with Jordan Smith, a 4-star defensive end who ended up signing with Florida in 2016.
But Jones’ scenario, being a 5-star prospect, was more intense. That necessitated Jelks taking on the role of gatekeeper.
“With a prospect of his stature, you’ve got you’ve got to try to gauge his interest in schools, and then go from there as far as letting them know who can come see him and who might be wasting their time,” said Jelks, who has been at Lithonia High for 14 years. “We’ve been through it before, so it wasn’t too bad. But you definitely have to manage it. Early on, everybody was coming through. They weren’t setting appointments, they were just coming through the school. Once it got late in the process, you were only talking about a couple of schools.”
Who is Broderick Jones?
Jones has everything college coaches are looking for in a modern-day offensive tackle. He’s tall and rangy at 6-foot-5 and inordinately mobile for a person of that size. That’s on display quite often this time of year as Jones excels as a post player for the Lithonia’s powerful basketball team.
The entire coaching staffs of Georgia and Auburn — including head coaches Kirby Smart and Gus Malzahn — sat in the stands for a recent game against archrival Southwest DeKalb.
“He could probably play small-college ball, based on his size and if he worked on it full time,” Corker said. “He has a good skill set. He can shoot the 3, moves well around the paint, has good balance, good footwork. But Broderick has been fully committed to football for a while now. Whatever he gives us in basketball, we appreciate.”
Said Jones: “I’ve always played both; I enjoy both. But once my football career started taking off I started taking that a little more serious than basketball.”
Jones actually is sporting his “basketball body” at the moment. He said he weighs about 285 pounds right now. In football, he played at about 300. At Georgia, he’s expected to go north of that.
Jones’ football skills actually attracted attention as far back as the ninth grade. That’s when he received his first scholarship offer. It came from Alabama.
At the time, he was just tall and lanky. He made himself into a blue-chip football prospect in the weight room.
“He was as tall then as he is now,” Jelks said of the ninth-grade version of Jones. “Really, with Broderick, it’s just about maturity. In the ninth grade, nobody really wants to come in here and lift weights and do all that stuff, because it’s new to them. He was mature about doing that and, throughout the years, he’s really put in a lot of hard work. He’s changed his body a little bit, become a little more athletic. He’s naturally athletic already, so when he put the hard work in, it took him to the next level.”
The Bulldogs offered Jones during the 10th grade. He accepted April 26, 2018.
Since then, Jones has named all-state twice, made the AJC Super 11 team this past fall and played in Orlando as an Under Armour All-American in January. He signs with Georgia as the nation’s No. 2-ranked offensive tackle and No. 11 prospect overall.
Anything but typical
Outside of football, there’s a lot more to Jones than meets the eye. There’s really nothing typical about him.
Jones list his hobbies as attending car shows and riding his dirt bike. He owns a Yamaha YZ40. When he wants to get away the recruiting madness, he hops on it and flies over the dirt and rocky outcrops that jut out from beneath Panola Mountain.
“There’s this trail behind my house that I ride on and we have a neighbor who has a bunch of land,” Jones said. “He has some 4-wheelers and rides out there and I do with him sometimes and ride with him.”
Jones rides street bikes, too. And one day, he hopes to own his own hot rod. For now, he likes to go to car shows and admire tricked-out coupes and roadsters.
It was while attending car shows that Jones developed his other passion — snakes. He has a ball python that he keeps as a pet.
That didn’t go over great with his mother.
“My mom didn’t want me to have a snake,” Jones said. “My granddad had a snake — his snake was really big though — and I guess she’s always been scared of snakes. So, she didn’t want me to get one. But I’m always going to these car shows and a lot people have snakes out there. There’s a whole bunch of them, more than a handful. So that’s really where I got the interest in having one.”
Other than that, Jones describes himself as a bit of a homebody. He comes from a tight-knit family that includes his older brother Roger (20), and two older sisters, Kyonna (28) and Kynesha (21). They have remained in the Lithonia area his entire life.
“Family’s a big part of my life,” Jones said. “At a young age I lost my dad, so family is what always held us together. I really don’t do too much outside of football and basketball.”
Jones’ father, Roosevelt Dotson, died after a long illness. Jones was only 6 years old.
“There really isn’t much to it,” Jones said of dealing with that tragedy. “I was still young, so I really didn’t get to know him as much as I wanted to. But I have an older brother that I look up to, and older sisters. So, like, they always helped me out. We stayed together and made a bond together. That’s why family’s such a big part of my life, because they’ve always held me together.”
Jones said it was a family atmosphere that first attracted him to Georgia, and why he has stuck with the Bulldogs for all this time. As a UGA commitment for nearly two years now, he has gotten to know most of the other recruits coming to Athens in the 2020 class.
That’s why Jones has been able to take the craziness of recruiting in stride.
“I really haven’t had a problem with that,” he said. “You just can’t let the process stress you out. You just have to take it one day at a time, one school at a time. You know I’m saying? As they come in, you just listen to what they’re saying, you evaluate what they say. If you don’t like what they say, you kick them out the door. It’s that simple.”
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