Julio Jones: Auburn left bad taste in mouth, so I went to Alabama

With National Signing Day and the Super Bowl falling within days of each other, the saga that was Julio Jones' recruitment to Alabama was a natural question for the Atlanta Falcons star during interviews on Wednesday.

When asked for his signing-day memories, Jones said he didn't know which school he would sign with when he awoke that day in 2008.

"I woke that morning. I was like 'OK.' I had my five envelopes, just moving them around. I was like 'I don't know where I'm going to go,'" Jones said. "But then I just thought why not stay in Alabama. People that were supporting me over the years. If I go somewhere too far, they aren't going to be able to see me play. You know? So that was one of the big reasons I stayed at Alabama. I was going to go to Auburn but I just didn't like Auburn. They left a bad taste in my mouth."

In what was Saban's first star-studded signing class at Alabama, Jones was the biggest prize among signees such as Marcell Dareus, Mark Ingram and Mark Barron. He was ranked the No. 1 player in the state, and Saban and his staff spent months trying to pry his commitment out of an area that had been dominated by Auburn in recruiting prior to Saban's arrival. Even now, nearly a decade after Saban made a routine of collecting elite signing classes, Jones remains Saban's most important recruiting victory ever at UA.

It's a little hard to believe that Jones got all the way to National Signing Day, following months of pursuit by elite programs, without a clear idea of his intentions. But he never made a public commitment, and insisted Wednesday that he never knew for sure until the day he signed.

"I didn't know where I was going. I'll tell you that," Jones said.

Jones spent three seasons at Alabama and won a BCS Championship in 2009 as a sophomore. He posted a career-best 78 catches for 1,133 yards as a junior in 2010 before entering the 2011 NFL Draft.

Three years after Alabama won the battle for Jones' signature, he was just as hot as a draft prospect. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, in fact, was about to make Jones a San Francisco 49er until the Falcons made a bold leap in the first round, trading from the No. 27 pick to No. 6 to get their man.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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