Top-ranked Clemson is just a few days out from its first game of the season and linebacker Mike Jones is ready to start against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons this Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C. (7:30pm).
The redshirt sophomore is ready to fill the shoes of Isaiah Simmons in Clemson’s nationally-ranked defense.
Jones on how it feels to finally start the season
“I was telling Coach [Dabo] Swinney the other day, I think I came to Clemson Camp my first time in the sixth grade. This whole thing … I’ve been living a childhood dream since fall camp. I’m blessed. I’m thankful for the opportunity. I’m ready to go out there and do it.”
Jones on missing the cheers of the Clemson Family with no fans in the stands
“I’ve tried not to think about it. Once you’re really on the field, the only thing you notice about the fans is how loud it is so that will definitely be something different. It is what it right now. We’re just glad we’re able to play. Ten fans, twenty fans, hundred fans, it doesn’t matter to me at this point. I’m just excited to go play.”
Jones on the moment he felt like he fit into Clemson’s defense
“I always thought I was a knowledgeable guy, but after doing it for two years, now I’m really starting to get this and starting to understand this. I feel like this spring and especially this fall camp, it’s become simple to me. You don’t even have to think about it all. It’s just go out there and play. Coming back and reflecting and watching the film it’s just like, ‘Wow! This is so easy now. How did it get like this?’ I would definitely say this spring I took a major leap to come to my knowledge and understand Coach [Brent Venables].”
Jones on who is standing out amongst the newest class of recruits
“All of our new guys have been amazing. Of course, I have my bias because I play SAM and nickel, but Trenton Simpson. He’s kind of been who I’ve tried to put under my wing. Trenton is a freakish athlete, freakish speed, great tackler and crazy explosive. I know by the time he’s my age, maybe even sooner, he’s going to be an amazing player, freakish player, freakish athlete for his defense. He’s going to be another top guy.”
Jones on what to watch for from Wake
“One of the things we really paid attention to was the offensive line and how they are constantly finishing off runs and helping push that running back forward. They do a great job. They’re really aggressive. They’re finishers. They’re grinders. That’s one thing we’ve had to really focus on … their running backs. They lost their oldest running back, No. 36. He was a great player. But they’ve also got some guys behind the line who are really talented and run the ball really hard … great backs. We really focused in on that and trying to be physical with those boys.”