MANSFIELD, Texas — Cam Jones was tired.
On Dec. 7, three days after decommitting from UCLA, everyone wanted something from the four-star safety. His phone buzzed all day — calls and texts and direct messages from coaches promising the world.
Cam, you gonna come here and start?
Cam, you gonna come here do this and that?
When the final bell rang at 2:55, a line of coaches outside Mansfield High wanted to talk to Jones in person.
The 6-foot, 204-pound safety obliged.
After hearing a pitch from Michigan coaches, next in line was running backs coach Ryan Held, who had been hired at Nebraska four days earlier.
“He never hit me up on the phone or anything,” Jones said. “Just showed up to the school. I was like, ‘Who does he think he is?’ ”
Held introduced himself and took a seat in the film room across from an uneasy Jones, who at this point was ready to go home.
The two talked for an hour. “He ended up being the coolest dude I’ve ever met.”
Recently, The World-Herald traveled to Mansfield, Texas, to profile Jones, whose high school coaches say is the hardest-hitting safety they’ve ever coached. Jones was rated the No. 23 safety in the 2018 class and No. 36 recruit in Texas. He held offers from Baylor, Texas Tech, UCLA, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
Here’s how Nebraska closed the deal on Jones.
Schools wanted Jones to sign at the early signing period Dec. 20. Nebraska didn’t.
Schools told Jones he’d be a freshman All-American if he came. Nebraska didn’t.
Schools promised Jones would play both sides of the ball. Nebraska wouldn’t.
Held promised nothing. And Jones loved it.
“I was like, ‘Finally someone is being 1,000 with me.’ That was one thing I wanted to hear,” Jones said. “I didn’t want to hear chitchat, I’ve been hearing that since I was like 14 years old in ninth grade. I don’t wanna hear it. Spit something real to me.”
Held convinced Jones to visit Nebraska a week later on Dec. 15. He was sold.
On Jan. 27, he committed.
“I really believe in the coaching staff and their abilities to change the program around,” Jones said. “I’m a big fan of college football and I know at one point it was Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska. So I want to bring them back on top and help be part of that journey of bringing us back on top.”