Gerald Jones has never been one to be shy or not speak his mind.
Even if he’s on the phone with somebody he doesn’t know or exactly how his number was obtained.
So when the now former Tennessee receiver got a call from a recruit requesting some information on his final two schools, Jones was happy to provide what he knew about UT and one of his old coaches, Auburn assistant Trooper Taylor.
The fact the outspoken Jones didn’t have anything negative to say about an opposing school to Gabe Wright may have rubbed some people the wrong way, and it certainly didn’t improve the perception after Wright ultimately signed with the Tigers last week. But in an interview with The Drive on WNOX on Wednesday, Jones made clear that he wasn’t doing any negative recruiting against his alma mater — and wasn’t even making an effort to influence Wright’s decision.
“The young man called me not too long ago, about a week ago, and he was stuck in a sticky situation like all recruits were and I was at one point in my career,” Jones said during the radio interview. “He was really just asking me about Tennessee and about Trooper Taylor, and I just told him all the positive stuff that I could tell him about Tennessee and about Troop.
“I just found out that he had made the decision to Auburn, wasn’t aware of it, and (Wednesday) I heard that it sounds like I persuaded him to go there. Let me get this clear right now — I didn’t. I actually despise people who try to persuade these kids to try to go to certain places. The only people I feel like should persuade them are these coaches, because they need them for their program.”
The coaches at both Auburn and UT were pushing hard for the touted defensive tackle all the way up to National Signing Day, leading to a decision for Wright that he compared to a coin flip during his televised announcement.
Jones did qualify as something of an expert down the stretch for Wright, spending one year with Taylor at UT in 2007 and then obviously three more seasons with the Vols after that. But if Wright was looking for help reaching a conclusion, he apparently called the wrong guy in the first place.
“I would never try to downgrade Tennessee or make him turn his head to another school,” Jones said. “I love the state of Tennessee and the school. I would say when we got off the phone I hadn’t helped him at all, because I said a lot of good stuff about Auburn and a lot of good stuff about Tennessee — no negative, because I don’t have any animosity to either school. He was still probably in the same place he was before he called me.
“I don’t have anything negative to say about Tennessee. . . . The positive stuff I said about Auburn is very limited, it’s stating the obvious. More than anything I told him about Troop, that he’s a good guy, a loyal guy, and he’s going to shoot you straight — just as I will.”
In case there was any doubt, Jones offered one more reminder of that when he took the call from Wright. And as usual, he also felt no need to apologize for speaking his mind.
Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.