Kellen Jones turning heads in Clemson camp

by - Senior Writer -

College football coaches are known for their hyperbole and sometimes comical word descriptions of plays and players, but Clemson coaches are serious when talking about transfer linebacker Kellen JonesKellen Jones
So. Linebacker
#52 6-1, 215
Houston, TX

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Head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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calls Jones a “gem” while defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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calls Jones a “stick of dynamite.”

Jones just calls himself “crazy” for playing linebacker.

“You’ve got to be crazy to play linebacker,” Jones said last week in his only opportunity to meet with the media. “That’s what everybody says.”

Jones said he got his crazy genes from his father Sean, who was a linebacker at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

“He could be crazy on the field, too,” Jones said of his father. “I’ve seen a couple of films from him in college. You’ve got to be crazy to play linebacker. All linebackers that played are. Those are my intentions.”

Jones was a 4-start linebacker out of Houston’s (TX) St. Pius X High School, where he had 110 tackles, 32 for loss, and eight sacks as a senior. He committed to the University of Michigan, but left Michigan last July and landed in Norman, Oklahoma, where he developed a bond with Venables.

“We developed a really good bond,” Jones said. “He earned my trust. “Once I saw Coach V leave, I felt I was going to follow him from the get-go. Of course I didn’t want anyone else to know that.”

Venables left Oklahoma to take the job at Clemson in January, and Jones decided to follow the man he trusted to the upstate of South Carolina. Jones decided to look elsewhere, citing his unfamiliarity with the new defensive coordinator at Oklahoma, Mike Stoops.

He visited Clemson, and his choice was made as he chose Clemson over Purdue and Arkansas.

“Once I came here and took my visit, I knew Clemson was the place for me,” Jones said. “I wanted to go ahead and play for a coach I’m familiar with. I didn’t know Coach Mike Stoops very well. He was bringing in a new defense, all new guys. I didn’t know him well.”

Under the NCAA’s transfer rule, Jones will have to sit out this season.

“It can be hard at times,” Jones said of sitting out this season. “You know you’re doing well, you know you could possibly be out there. I just make the best of it, try and stay hungry. I stay positive and try to picture it as a redshirt year. I still have things to learn with the defense. Coach V’s playbook is very complex, so learning other peoples’ positions can really help out. I try and take advantage of that and stay positive. “

In the meantime, Jones has been working out at middle linebacker and drawing rave reviews from players and coaches alike with not only his play, but his team-first attitude.

“I really want to make every play. I’m really physical,” he said. “I feel like I can really bring a lot to the run game. I want to go ahead and do what’s best for the team. I’m not concerned about myself. I just want to do what makes the team better. You win games ahead of time in college with competition. You always want to compete for a starting spot, for sure, but you’re trying to help your teammates.”

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