Hunter Jones, a four-year North Marion varsity pitcher, has chosen the University of Florida to further his education and baseball career. He gave the Gators baseball team the nod over Miami, FAU, FIU, Florida State, Tulane, and many other schools.
“It was hectic for a little while. It started to slow down as I started to narrow down the choices and then I ultimately decided UF was the best fit,” Jones said of his commitment.
The personal fit was a big part of Hunter’s decision. The proximity to home and the feel of Gainesville compared to New Orleans or South Florida attracted Jones to the Gators.
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He’s practically a hometown kid, living not far from campus, and his relationship with the UF staff helped them earn his pledge.
“I really like them. I think they’re very personable and actually care about you,” said Jones.
Working hard to reach the next level
Jones and his high school coach, Dale Hall, were in lockstep throughout the recruiting process. They have a close relationship.
“Hunter always wants to make sure he has the best information. He reached out any time a school reached or contacted him, and we talked it out," Hall said. "He wanted to be sure he was making the right decision. He understands how important it was to make a good choice for where he attends college and plays baseball."
Hall speaks highly of the senior’s work ethic.
“He’s worked extremely hard for us. There’s very few people that compete as hard as he does. We feel very fortunate to have him in our program. He’s great on the field, great in the locker room,” said Hall.
Hunter works hard to honor the sacrifices his parents have made for his dream. Youth travel ball to a high schooler’s senior year can get expensive.
“I feel like my parents put so much time and money into it that I can’t just do it halfway," Jones said. "If you’re going to do it why not do it with all you can do. That’s how I feel about it."
The 6-foot-3 pitcher was clocked throwing his fastball as high as 90 miles per hour during the offseason. He’ll join a recruiting class with 10 pitchers, eight of whom are from the state of Florida.
The Colts have already started preparing for the season. With tryouts in the rearview mirror, North Marion has been in the weight room four days a week. From September until November, UF’s newest recruit and his teammates will take the field for practices and inter-squad games.
Jones has one thing on his mind going into his senior season: winning. He wants to recreate the Colts’ success in 2021 when they made their first appearance in the state final.
“I just want to make another run like we did when I was a sophomore. That’s all I really care about,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: High school baseball: North Marion pitcher Hunter Jones picks UF