Sheridan Jones, one of the stars of Clemson’s spring game in April, saw the most extensive action of his young career last Saturday.
The true freshman cornerback recorded a tackle and recovered a fumble while logging a career-high 30 snaps in the Tigers’ 59-14 win over Wofford at Death Valley.
“It was great,” Jones said of his fumble recovery in the fourth quarter. “That ball came out of nowhere, honestly. I should have honestly picked it up and tried to take it to the house. But just a great play by Mike (Jones) who made the tackle. He hit the quarterback, the ball popped out and I fell on it and recovered it. It was pretty exciting.”
A four-star and top-100 national prospect in the 2019 recruiting cycle, Jones has played on defense in seven of Clemson’s nine games this season, posting five tackles and a pass breakup in 96 total snaps.
The native of Norfolk, Virginia, enrolled early in January and went through spring practice before making one of the most memorable plays in the Orange & White spring game, a 42-yard pick-six in the final minutes.
Jones feels he benefited in multiple ways by being a mid-year enrollee as opposed to enrolling in the summer.
“It was definitely great for me because of the size and things like that,” he said. “If I would have just come in the summer, then I probably wouldn’t have put on as much weight. But then also with the classes and things like that and then getting in tune with the game plan and learning the defense … So, it helped in all aspects – academically and athletically.”
Jones needed to bulk up upon his arrival to campus and has done just that.
“When I first got here day one, I was only 160, and I weighed in (Monday) about 184,” he said. “So, getting stronger, faster, bigger, just plumping out a little bit – trying to get bigger as it goes.”
The former Maury High School standout credited Clemson’s nutrition staff for helping him put on good weight.
“The main thing was basically eating for me,” Jones said. “I always worked out, but just making sure I ate three, four, five meals a day. Even when I wasn’t hungry, I had to force myself to eat just to gain weight. But the help from the nutrition staff and everybody in there … the weight shakes and everything else in there, the snacks, and just staying consistent with it basically.”
Not only is Jones bigger, but the high school Under Armour All-American believes Clemson’s strength and conditioning coaches have helped him get faster by improving his running technique.
“Before I got here, I didn’t really know how to run,” he said. “But working with the strength coaches and everybody here helped me learn how to run and get faster from there on out.”
Meanwhile, competing against members of Clemson’s ultra-talented receiving corps in practice has made Jones a better and more confident player.
“It’s definitely helped a lot, going against them every day, guys like Tee (Higgins), Justyn (Ross) and Joseph (Ngata), Frank (Ladson) — just everybody basically,” Jones said. “Going against them every day helps build confidence because you go against these top wide receivers every day in practice, come game time, it makes it easier for you. So, doing that every day, it just makes it better for me. I have fun with it.”
Jones has also learned a lot from fellow defensive backs A.J. Terrell and K’Von Wallace, both of whom have taken him under their wing.
“Since I’ve been here, it’s definitely been A.J. for sure,” Jones said. “That’s one guy I can definitely say I look up to. And then K’Von — K’Von’s from Virginia just like I am, so he tends to help me a lot. Both of them are like two big brothers to me.”
A two-way player in high school, Jones tallied 45 tackles and two interceptions, including one he returned for a score, as a senior in 2018. As a wide receiver, he had 17 receptions for 347 yards and two touchdowns.
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