Jones is penciled in for both SAM, nickel positions

Jones is penciled in for both SAM, nickel positions

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Jones is penciled in for both SAM, nickel positions

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Since the spring, there has been talk about what Clemson is going to do to replace Isaiah Simmons, who is now playing for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.

There was talk Clemson defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Venables was going to play two people at the strongside/nickel position this coming season. Mike Jones was the obvious choice to replace Simmons at SAM, but the coaches felt they might have to find someone else to play the nickel back position when Clemson went to its nickel package.

That does not seem to be the case anymore.

“Mike Jones … that is his job,” Venables said Saturday when asked about the nickel position. “He did an unbelievable job this spring and summer, as well, and then picked up right where he left off. I feel great about him.”

It is not surprising Jones has locked up that area of the field. Venables and head coach Dabo Swinney have been raving about his ability since the spring. Though he is not an Isaiah Simmons—and who is—he does play with the same instincts, speed and physicality that made Dorian O’Daniel an All-American and an NFL Draft pick at the position.

In his two plus years at Clemson, including a redshirt season in 2018, Jones has 22 career tackles, a forced fumble and pass broken up. He played in three games in 2018 before being redshirted. He spent all of last season as Simmons’ backup.

Venables did mention there are others who are working at the position as well in fall camp, such as freshman linebacker Trent Simpson, freshman safety Tyler Venables, freshman corner Malcolm Greene and a few others.

“We feel good about that spot,” Venables said. “It is going to be a position strength for us.”

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