One of Alabama’s top high school football players has died of an apparent suicide.
Hazel Green High School junior defensive end Julian Jones, 16, died Monday morning according to WHNT-TV:
The Madison County Coroner confirmed to WHNT that Hazel Green football player Julian Jones died Monday morning.
The coroner ruled the cause of death to be suicide.
WAAY-TV is reporting the school plans to hold a candlelight vigil in Jones’ honor Tuesday night. The event will take place at the football stadium.
Jones’ football coach Matt Putnam expressed his condolences on Twitter:
The entire TrojanFamily is devastated by the loss of Julian. Our love, thoughts & prayers go out to his entire family. He will be missed.
— Coach Putnam (@MattPutnam1) October 7, 2014
Putnam’s wife Lindsay posted a photo of the team huddled together:
— Lindsay Putnam (@Ms_PuttSHS) October 7, 2014
Jones’ coach told Al.com in May the junior would likely emerge this season as one of the team’s top leaders:
He grew up in football. He understands the game really well. He’s athletic, big and long. He’s 6-5, 6-6. He loves the game; he’s a good leader. He’ll be a junior next year, and he’s already taken over pretty big leadership role on the team. He’s the kind of kid you wish they all were like.
Jones’ father Anthony played tight end in the NFL for 4 seasons before retiring because of a knee injury. He was the head coach of Alabama A&M’s football team for 11 years.
Monday, the university’s president and athletic director put out a joint statement on young Jones’ death:
The Alabama A&M University family is saddened to learn of the passing of Coach Anthony Jones’ son, Julian Jones. Losing a loved one is always difficult, but the loss of a child is extremely difficult. As Coach Jones spent a decade at the University, Alabama A&M University still embraces the Jones Family as members of our AAMU Family. We extend condolences to Coach Jones and his family and ask all persons to keep the Jones Family in their prayers at this most difficult period.
Jones attended the Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge in July, which features the nation’s top recruits.
During the camp, he spoke with GamecocksCentral.com’s Chris Clark about the number the number of top programs which had already made him scholarship offers:
- University of South Carolina
- Mississippi State
- Middle Tennesee State
Jones told Clark schools were mostly interested in him as a defensive end, but admitted he preferred to play tight end. Jones is from Buford, South Carolina, and told Clark he has family in Columbia.
Some of Jones’ friends and teammates have posted tributes to him on Twitter:
He played with the most heart and loved every single second on the field, I hope I can play the game like you someday pic.twitter.com/R00rg5v1vP
— Logan Arnold (@loganarnold7) October 7, 2014
The boy is the reason I even got talked to by Mississippi St. And Auburn always made sure the scouts heard about me, this is my brother man.
— Atk #24 (@AaronAtk9) October 7, 2014
I went to elementary school with Julian Jones 😩😭 RIP 👼
— ❤️ (@cALLME_Kira) October 6, 2014