Pete Carroll is one of the best recruiters and speakers in college football history, so it’s understandable that some high school coaches had to go to extreme measures to keep him away from certain high school players he was trying to woo. Apparently one such player was Julio Jones, who had to be dragged away and locked in a room when Carroll flew to Alabama to try and meet him.
According to a report this week, Carroll went to Foley, Alabama back in 2007 or 2008, when Jones was the number one receiving recruit in the nation, with the intention of convincing Jones to come to USC. Carroll told the following to NBC’s Rob Buska:
“We loved Julio so much, and he went to his high school in the middle of nowhere, in the sticks there in Alabama. We flew in to see him, and once we got out of the car, at the football field, during the middle of practice, coach saw me and knew who I was. He took Jones off the field, ran him inside, got the principal and the athletic director, and locked the school.”
Buska said they wouldn’t let Carroll in.
“Got Nick Saban at Alabama on the phone right away, and said, ‘Hey, Pete Carroll’s outside.’ Next thing you know, there’s your full scholarship right there,” Carroll said.
It would have been interesting to see what Jones would have done in college if Carroll had been able to get a face-to-face with him.
Since Alabama is not really a passing school, he finished with 58 catches for 924 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman with John Parker Wilson throwing to him. The Crimson Tide went 12-2 and finished sixth in the AP polls. That same year, Mark Sanchez threw 34 touchdowns and USC’s top receiver was Damian Williams, who had 58 catches for 869 yards and nine touchdowns. Patrick Turner had 10 touchdowns for the Trojans that year, as the Trojans went 12-1 and finished third. Their only loss was a 27-21 Thursday game at Oregon State in Week 3 that they were never able to recover from despite being ranked number one at the time. How would things have been different for Jones and for the 2008 national championship game if not for his high school coaching literally locking him in Alabama?
Still, the Crimson won the national championship with a perfect 14-0 record the following year, despite Jones having just 596 yards. They went only 10-3 in 2010, however, but Jones had his best season (1,133 yards) and then was the sixth overall pick as the Falcons traded up a billion spots to secure him.
If only the Cleveland Browns had as much sense about his value as his high school coach did.