Whole Hog: Jones Signs With Arkansas

Highland Park athletes recognized during Wednesday’s National Signing Day ceremony include, from left: Sarah O’Neal (Vanderbilt), Frances Ann Matise (South Carolina), Rachel Wasserman (Penn State), Sierra Jones (Texas Tech), Matteo Cordray (Army), Conner Allen (SMU), James Herring (Harvard), Felix Van Cauwelaert (Yale), John Stephen Jones (Arkansas), and Thomas Shelmire (Boston College). (Photo: Melissa Macatee)

Even before he led Highland Park to back-to-back Class 5A Division I state championships, John Stephen Jones dreamed of playing football at Arkansas.

Two title-game MVP awards and numerous school records later, Jones is following in his family’s legacy. He signed with the Razorbacks on Wednesday.

Jones was one of several HP athletes recognized at a National Signing Day ceremony at the school. They included his teammates Thomas Shelmire (Boston College), Matteo Cordray (Army), Conner Allen (SMU), and James Herring (Harvard).

“I’ve always been an Arkansas fan growing up,” Jones said. “When they offered me, I knew that was where I wanted to go.”

Jones is the grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who was a co-captain on the school’s national championship squad in 1964. His father, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones, also played for the Razorbacks.

At Arkansas, Jones will play for new head coach Chad Morris, who was previously at SMU and whose son Chandler was Jones’ backup with the Scots last season.

Shelmire, a three-year starter at offensive tackle for the Scots, signed with Boston College in December.

“I wanted a good education, and I wanted to play in a Power 5 conference,” Shelmire said of the Eagles, who play in the Atlantic Coast Conference. “I love the coaches and the players. The campus is beautiful.”

Shelmire committed to BC last summer after becoming frustrated with the recruiting process. He said the opportunity to play in a different part of the country also was appealing.

“I found people who were real with me. They treated me like a person and not just a football player,” he said. “It’s the best decision I ever made. I feel very blessed.”

Cordray emailed about 300 colleges after his junior season, before he became the full-time kicker for the Scots. The coaches at Army were among the first to show interest.

After committing to play for the Black Knights, Cordray had a terrific senior season, with several clutch kicks that helped HP win a state title.

“I started to see what an amazing place it was,” Cordray said of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point. “It’s not the typical college experience, but it truly is meaningful and worthwhile.”

Herring, a two-year starter at defensive back, chose Harvard over fellow Ivy League schools such as Yale and Princeton.

“I fell in love with the place. The coaching staff is great, and obviously, the academics speak for themselves,” Herring said. “I wanted to take advantage of that.”

Allen became one of HP’s top running backs last season after transferring from Regents School in Austin. As a preferred walk-on at SMU, he will follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, HP head coach Randy Allen, who also played for the Mustangs and was recently honored as a distinguished alumnus.

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