Mike Jones has not only become Clemson’s new starting linebacker on the strongside of the field, but he has also become one of the more revered players on the team.
Granted, Jones’ leadership and courage to organize Clemson’s Peaceful Community Protest during the country’s Black Lives Matter Movement this past June did a lot to show his leadership and how he stands up for things that matter the most. However, those are not the only things his teammates respect about the Nashville, Tenn., native.
They also respect his work ethic and his commitment to his team and his teammates.
When the coronavirus shut everything down this past spring, Jones could have easily laid back and done just the minimal requirement of work to get through the two and a half months the team was unable to work together and participate in off-season workouts.
Instead, when the Tigers returned to the Allen Reeves Football Complex in June, he reported in great shape. When Clemson opened fall camp, he weighed in at 215 pounds, 10 pounds less than he was back in the spring.
“He takes leadership to heart and it matters to him how he leads,” Clemson defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Venables said. “He is just such a great example for the other players. He really serves our entire team in a great way.”
During camp, Jones solidified his spot as the Tigers’ starting SAM linebacker, and has even proven he can be a three-down backer. Venables has talked about how Jones will stay on the field a lot when they go to their nickel packages.
Though he is not an Isaiah Simmons, he does remind the coaches a lot of Dorian O’Daniel, who was an All-American for Clemson in 2017.
“It is just detail. He knows more about guys around him, so he is playing at a different level from a confidence standpoint,” Venables said. “He is very skilled. He has worked hard on his craft.
“He was a guy during this time that really took advantage of the time and went to work with his down time and controlled what he could control. He has a great mindset. He loves to play. He is hard on himself. He demands a lot. So, I don’t have to coach him hard. He is, again, a detailed guy that wants to do his part.”
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