Gainesville — A little more love might have kept Gainesville High School star Tai-ler Jones a little closer to home as he played his college ball.
The speedy receiver, who ranks as one of the state’s top junior prospects, ended the speculation about his future by choosing Stanford as his college choice during a Thursday afternoon press conference at the school in front of excited friends, family and coaches.
Jones, who boasts a 3.6 GPA and a robust 25 ACT score, chose the Cardinal from among his six finalists, including Georgia, Cal, UCLA, Notre Dame and North Carolina. He totaled 32 scholarship offers overall, including Georgia Tech.
The lifelong UGA fan he said he likely would have chosen the Bulldogs had they made a scholarship offer a little sooner. The Dogs became the 31st school to offer the 6-foot-1, 178-pounder when they did so in late March.
“In the end, their offer did come kind of late,” said Jones, who caught 81 passes for 989 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior to help the Red Elephants go 12-1 and reach the Class AAA state quarterfinals.
“In my opinion, because it came so late, I wasn’t what they were looking for in a receiver. So I kind of checked them off and went with a school that really wanted me and really showed the love.”
Jones said Georgia coaches had told him a scholarship offer was forthcoming after his first game of the season last fall. Jones admitted being puzzled, however, even after his sparkling performance of eight receptions for 158 yards and a score in a win over Chestatee.
“I think if UGA had gotten in a little earlier, I think he probably would have been staying home,” said Andre Jones, the player’s father and a member of Notre Dame’s 1989 national championship team.
Jones becomes the school’s second blue-chip junior prospect to spurn the nearby Bulldogs despite the school being the alma mater of Georgia athletics director Damon Evans.
Georgia is 0-2 for Gainesville’s 2010 prospects with offers from the Bulldogs. Red Elephants quarterback Blake Sims has committed to Alabama. Neither of the players’ commitments will become binding until they sign national letters-of-intent next February.
Georgia’s latest loss, however, will be a big gain for the Cardinal, who compete in the Pac-10.
Red Elephants offensive coordinator Todd Wofford called Jones “probably the best route-runner in the country.”