Everything is starting to fall into place for Clemson linebacker Mike Jones. After having limited action in his first two seasons as a Tiger, Jones is looking forward to the first start of his career this Saturday when the top-ranked Tigers visit Wake Forest to kick off the 2020 football season.
With the departure of Clemson All-American Isaiah Simmons, who has since moved on to the NFL, Jones has an opportunity to become a real difference maker on defense for the Tigers.
“I am very excited about the opportunity,” Jones said. “I am trying to not think about it as much, but I am just ready to go out there and play. Just really ready to go play.”
For Jones, the opportunity of earning a starting spot is a dream come true. The Nashville, Tenn., native says he has dreamed of this moment since early on in his football career.
“I was telling Coach [Dabo] Swinney the other day, I think I came to camp my first time in like the sixth grade, so this whole thing, man, I’ve just been living a childhood dream for like the past however long,” Jones said. “Through like fall camp and everything, and I’m going on towards even more of that dream. I’m blessed and thankful for the opportunity.
“I am ready to go out there and do it.”
With the Tigers’ first game this Saturday, Jones knows the environment will be much different than they are used to. Because of a state rule in North Carolina to help fight the spread of the coronavirus, no fans will be allowed at Truist Field. It will be an empty stadium, but for the junior, the opportunity to play is what excites him the most.
“The only thing you really notice about the fans is how loud it is, so that will definitely be something different,” Jones said. “It just is what it is right now. We are just glad we are able to play, you know, ten fans, twenty fans, hundred fans, it doesn’t matter. To me at this point, I am just excited to go play.”