IMG Academy linebacker and 2018 Clemson commit Mike Jones came out of the locker room after halftime against Grayson (Ga.) on Saturday night confident and prepared.
With IMG leading 10-7 at the break, Jones ran back onto the field fired up, yelling, “They know they can’t handle us!”
Then, Jones backed up the smack talk with a play that set the tone for the second half.
On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Jones intercepted a pass thrown by fellow Clemson commit Chase Brice, diving to the ground to corral the ball before it touched the grass.
The Clemson Insider was at Grayson High for IMG’s 26-7 win, and caught up with Jones after.
Jones admitted that he likes to talk a little trash during games.
“I try to keep it clean, but when you love the game, the emotions are running, so I got to let it out,” Jones said. “That’s just me.”
Jones was sure of himself and his team in part because he knew what to expect from Grayson. He was prepared, and it translated to his performance.
“We had worked all week on reading the quick game and jumping hitches, slants and quick outs,” Jones said. “We came out after the first half, coach told me that right before the play that he was going to do it and to jump it, and it happened.”
Jones joked that he isn’t going to let Brice forget about his big pick.
“You know I have to bring that up whenever we get up there,” he said with a smile.
The game was nationally televised on ESPN2, and Jones is thankful for the chance he had to showcase his skills to the world.
“It’s amazing, man,” Jones said. “Looking back a year ago, if you had told me that I was going to play on ESPN in front of all these people, I would have told you there’s no way possible. It’s a blessing from God, just having this opportunity.”
A physical, athletic and rangy player who can stop the run and defend the pass, Jones (6-2, 210) was recruited by Clemson as an outside linebacker.
“They’re recruiting me as an outside linebacker, but I feel like I could do it all,” Jones said. “Playmakers make plays, especially with the way they breed linebackers up there. Coach V (defensive coordinator Brent Venables) is a great coach. He breeds his guys to do everything.”
Since Jones became Clemson’s first commit in the 2018 class on June 16, he has been working to get several of his teammates to join him.
“My ’18 boys, Brian Hightower, Taron Vincent, T.K. Chimedza, Jamal Elliott, Asa Martin,” Jones said when asked who he is recruiting. “All my boys, got to get them to Tiger Town.”
Jones plans to visit Clemson for a game during the season. IMG has a bye on Sept. 30, so he’s eyeing a trip to Clemson for the game against Louisville on Oct. 1.