Mike Jones could be a vital part of the defense
Recently, we took a look at Garrett Dellinger and John Emery, two guys LSU could count on for escapes.
Today we’ll take a look at linebacker Mike Jones Jr., who could also be key to the Tigers’ efforts in 2022.
Jones transferred to LSU in the summer of 2021, and it seemed like a perfect match. LSU needed help after a terrible 2020 on defense that saw some of its worst safety and linebacker plays in years. Jones was seen as a guy who could help the team in both places.
In 2020 at Clemson, he was named to the All-ACC list by Pro Football Focus. As a redshirt rookie in 2020, he saw action in all 15 games, including special teams against LSU in the national championship game.
When Jones played just one snap in Game 1 against UCLA, many were surprised. The next three games featured more shots for Jones, but against Auburn, he was down to just two shots. A few weeks later against Floridajust one more.
Only after the week off, against Alabama, which Jones saw more time. This bye week is also the period in which LSU almost completely reinvented its defense, making it one of the best units in the country down the line.
In that game in Alabama, Jones lined up all over the place, much like people thought he would when he first joined LSU. Playing a role in his new blitz packages, Jones recorded three pressures and a sack.
Jones saw plenty of playing time next week against Arkansas, where LSU held the Razorbacks to a single touchdown all night. Against ULM the following week, Jones added three more pressures.
Although he never became a dominant or All-SEC player with LSU in 2021, he found a role, starting the last five games, something that was not nearly guaranteed when he was on. the bench against UCLA.
Jones is a former four-star recruit and was ranked the 210th best player in 2018 on the 247Sports Composite. He’s talented and versatile, a combination defensive coordinators love to see.
With the loss of Damone Clark, a linebacker whose speed allowed him to have an effect in the passing game, LSU needs Jones to step in. The opportunity is there with new personnel and some open places on this defense.
In a conference where speed is the name of the game and a sport where defense is more about making plays than trying to play consistently from drive to drive, someone with Jones’ ability is invaluable.
Will he be one of the best defenders in the SEC? Probably not, but that’s on the higher end of the odds. Can he be a real difference maker for LSU? Yes, and the Tigers probably need him.