Ranked as the No. 5 safety in the country by Scout.com, Chad Jones (6-3, 232, 4.5) took his first official visit this weekend (December 15) to USC.
"I love it out in California," Jones said. "They are one of my top schools now. I thought I was going to go to LSU, but visiting USC really opened my eyes."
Jones' player hosts were sophomore linebacker Brian Cushing and junior fullback/linebacker Thomas Williams. "We went into Hollywood and drove around all the nice houses and stuff," Jones said. "Los Angeles is probably the biggest city I've ever been to.
"I really loved all the players," Jones said. "They are real young and they'll be around for a long time. It's really like the perfect place. The coaches were great too because they work hard, but have fun too. I got to see them practice and it was very intense and very focused.
"Coach Ken Norton is the one that's been recruiting me and he's real cool. He reminds me of my dad and I feel comfortable talking with him," Jones said. "Coach Pete Carroll really gives you a lot to think about. He talks a lot and I really liked listening to him. When he talks, you listen. He really smart."
Jones now lists USC and LSU as his favorites. The Trojans and Tigers have a solid lead over Florida, Florida State (January 12 official trip) and Miami. "It's really between LSU and USC right now," Jones said. "I love them both. LSU is home and all my family and friends could see me play. My brother (defensive end Rahim Alem) goes there and I already know all the coaches and players really well.
"But I loved California and the USC coaches really stand out," Jones said. "I love how they aren't scared to play freshman. Every year they play more freshman than any other school and they are always one of the top teams in the country."
Jones says he won't be making his announcement until Signing Day.
His team finished the season 11-3, with Jones credited for 138 tackles, 12 interceptions (six for touchdowns) and five fumbles caused. Offensively, he had 464 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He reports a 2.5 core GPA and a 24 ACT.