Why hadn't the Texas Longhorns offered McKinney North running back Ronald Jones II?
That was the operative question throughout the last several weeks as Texas fans wondered why the coaching staff hadn't entered the recruitment of the state's No. 3 back, but that all changed on Thursday evening with the news that Jones finally got his offer, as first reported by ESPN's Max Olson.
Eventually, in the vacuum of information, fans in certain corners started to decide that it must have been something about the character of Jones II. In the absence of the information, such theories are bound to surface -- something has to fill that otherwise inexplicable gap.
Shockingly, that line of thinking turned out to be false.
None of that explains what took so long, however, as it doesn't take much film on Jones to conclude that he's a special talent, perhaps the greatest pure running back talent in the state in a cycle that features an incredible amount of it.
There's a reason why Jones is rated as the No. 8 running back in the country, the No. 11 player in the state of Texas, and the No. 84 prospect nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings. That ranking places him behind Plano West's Soso Jamabo, classified by some services as an athlete at 6'3 and 210 pounds, and Katy's Rodney Anderson, the Texas A&M commit considered an all-purpose back.
Jones II sits fractionally behind Anderson for the No. 10 spot in the state overall and could move ahead of Jamabo if 247Sports were to raise their ranking of him, which seems rather low at 93.
Why is that low?
Jones II looks like the top back in the state to these eyes because his speed is apparent, even though there aren't any verifiable times for him at all. The bottom line is that Jones II consistently pulls away from any defenders around him and has a rare ability to cut at a high velocity, which allows him to disrupt angles.
When opponents do manage to get into contact with him, he has a unique ability to make them slide off of him, even when he doesn't have ideal pad level. When he does lower his shoulder, he can run over opponents and his slide cutting ability presents a minimal tackling surface when he needs to get vertical through a small seam, a talent that looks a lot like former Texas star Jamaal Charles.
Putting the speed, feet, and tackle-breaking ability of Jones together makes for an extremely potent combination, as there's little doubt that the first two will translate to college. If the third does as well, then Jones has the chance to become a nationally-elite difference maker at the position.
As far as the recruitment for Jones, his Crystal Ball currently has his recruitment as a dead split between Oklahoma and Baylor, but he's from the Austin area originally, so that connection may help make up some ground that was lost because the staff waited so long to extend an offer.
The McKinney North product told Orangebloods that he was "pretty excited" about it finally happening.
Like a number of prospects, the staff needs to try to battle back into his recruitment, thought he positive positioning with Kirk Johnson reduces a bit of the pressure. And there's probably only one spot for the two left at the moment with Jordan Stevenson already committed, though Texas could take three running backs if the staff decides that they want a bigger back in the group as well.
Can Texas make enough of an impression to battle for Jones II before Johnson makes a decision? There might be a chance for that, as Johnson wants to visit Arizona and possibly UCLA before committing somewhere. Johnson also just received an offer from Cal, which could impact his timetable as well.
The good news is that schools like Auburn, USC, and Texas A&M don't have much of a head start in terms of extending offers to Jones, as all three offered the rising running back in the last several days.
Regardless of what kept the staff from offering Jones II, the only ting that will really matter is where he ends up.