Kristopher Jones’ recruitment reached a new level May 6 when the University of Oklahoma offered a football scholarship to the Mountain View High School linebacker.
Until that point, only geographically closer schools had offered Jones scholarships. But the Sooners’ interest changed the dynamic, especially when coaches from the national powerhouse visited the Stafford County high school.
Watching this all unfold, Ike Daniels, Mountain View’s highly recruited running back, could have turned the recruiting process into a competition with his teammate and used jealousy as a motivator. A number of major Division I programs had offered him scholarships as well, but Oklahoma was not among them.
Instead, Daniels took a different tack. He was thrilled for his teammate. Daniels’ reaction underscored the nature of his relationship with Jones.
“This is not a rivalry,” said Mountain View head football coach Lou Sorrentino. “You see two teammates who are happy for each other.”
In over 30 years as a head coach, Sorrentino has coached some big-time talent, including Hylton graduate Deon Butler, who went on to star at Penn State before the Seattle Seahawks selected him in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft, and another former Penn State wide receiver, DaeSean Hamilton. Hamilton played for Sorrentino at Mountain View and was selected by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
But he has never had two elite prospects on the same team. Having Daniels and Jones complement each other the way they do makes his job and life easier.
“I like them as people,” Sorrentino said. “They were raised the right way.”
The two are both good students who carry over a 3.0 grade-point average. They are also key players on a veteran team looking to build on last season’s success. Mountain View had its best season in history, going 11-2 before losing to eventual state champion Stone Bridge in the Class 5, Region B championship game.
In addition to Jones and Daniels, the Wildcats have another Division I recruit in senior tight end Collin Carroll, who has committed to James Madison University.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Daniels is more established than Jones since he’s older. After reclassifying as an eighth-grader to mature himself for the rigors of high school, Daniels arrived as a freshman ready to step in and make an immediate impact with his explosiveness. Last season, he totaled 1,560 total yards and 18 touchdowns.
Wanting to get his college decision out of the way before Mountain View’s practices officially started July 28, Daniels did so six days earlier when he announced on Twitter his commitment to Syracuse. The three-star recruit chose the Orangemen over his other finalist, Hawaii. Daniels plans to graduate early and enroll in college in January to prepare for spring practice.
Daniels had a strong connection to Hawaii. His family is from there, as is former record-setting North Stafford standout Nate Ilaoa. Ilaoa and Daniels’ father, Jesse, were high school teammates. Ilaoa played for the University of Hawaii before the Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the seventh round, making him the first NFL draft pick from a Stafford high school.
North Stafford played a part in Daniels’ first offer, which came from Chris Beatty, former head coach of the Wolverines. Beatty was an assistant at Pittsburgh when the Panthers extended the offer to Daniels.
Daniels enters this season vowing to let his hair continue to grow out. Daniels last had a haircut two years ago.
“I don’t plan on cutting it,” Daniels said. “My dad says I’m like the character Samson.”
Daniels took his official visit to Syracuse the weekend of June 24. Rated the No. 17 senior in Virginia by 247Sports.com, Daniels also had offers from Virginia Tech, Boston College, Virginia and Wake Forest, among others.
Jones’ recruitment took off after last season. Although he started for Mountain View as a freshman, the compressed schedule during the spring limited his exposure.
But with a full regular-season schedule plus the playoffs to showcase his skills, Jones exploded on the scene. He totaled 10 sacks, 94 tackles, two blocked kids and two defensive touchdowns. He received his first offer Sept. 18, 2021, from Arizona State. Rated Virginia’s top high school football prospect for the class of 2024 by 247Sports.com, Jones has over 20 offers and climbing. Among his offers is one from defending national champion Georgia.
At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Jones’ size appeals to recruiters. He’s versatile with an ability to rush off the edge or drop back into pass coverage. Jones is also grateful for Daniels’ success.
“People come to see Ike and that’s helped me,” Jones said.
Jones plans to play some running back this season. Daniels remains the primary ball carrier, but it’s another opportunity for Jones and Daniels to share the load.
As they go through the process, both have kept a level head. Jones has visited a number of schools this summer, including Florida, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Florida State.
“It happens only once so I’m not getting too stressed about it,” Jones said.
David Fawcett is sports editor of InsideNoVa and a resident of Stafford County.