Mike Jones has the eye of the of Tiger in 2019
Mike Jones has the eye of the of Tiger in 2019

Expanded Role: Mike Jones excited about the chance to make an impact in 2019

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Leaner. Faster. Smarter. Mike Jones is ready to make an impact.

Jones is the redshirt freshman linebacker out of Nashville who is expected to back up nickel/SAM linebacker Isaiah Simmons this season. Jones enters 2019 having recorded three tackles in 15 snaps during his redshirt season in 2018. Jones saw action in three games – against Louisville, NC State, and Duke – but says August camp has been different than anything he experienced last season.

“That freshman year is pretty tough. Especially with V (Brent Venables). He expects you to not fall behind anywhere and just getting the chance to redshirt and just stay in the defense, really just submerge myself and learning,” Jones said. “That’s what really made a difference. I am a lot further mentally than I was last year.

“Camp went great. As a linebacker, I think we grew a lot and we had some little nicks early. So now we got a lot of guys opportunity to work at other positions, and just as a group as a whole we matured a lot and our knowledge stepped up to another level. We got a little tougher, everybody’s banged up and it’s time to get our mind right for the season.”

The nickel/SAM spot requires a player to be good both against the run and in coverage and Jones worked on his changing his body as he prepared for his new role.

“We, me and coach V, talked about it. S,o I get a lot of muscles during power hour,” Jones said. “We just focus on cutting body fat. I actually dropped nine percent body fat from the beginning of the summer from going into camp. So once that happened, I was a lot quicker, twitchier, fast moments, stuff like that.”

Learning the position hasn’t been easy.

“It’s a lot of stuff and it all comes fast. It’s only as difficult as you make it,” Jones said. “When you’re a freshman you're just like ‘whoa’ about everything. But once you realize that you have got to put a lot of extra time into this, it’s more than just being out here and practicing. Just like you have to study for a test. I have a test every day on the field, so I have to choose to study a little bit more and that is just the main thing.”

Jones was asked which parts of his game he said he wanted to improve the most, he said his knowledge and work in the film room.

“Definitely just the knowledge side of the game,” he said. “It’s easy to go out and do your job but I want to focus more on knowing my opponent and being ready and knowing what to expect from them rather than just playing every snap for the snap. I want to know what’s coming on, just the knowledge of the game.

Also, the film room and even outside of film room. We have extensive notes and scouting reports, so just becoming regular with those things and just becoming calmer and relaxed. You don’t want to be thinking out there too much on the field. It is just supposed to be just easy calm.”

Jones will likely see his first extended action when Clemson hosts Georgia Tech in the season opener a week from today, but Jones doesn’t expect any first-game jitters.

“Not really. I got in last year against NC State and that hit me pretty hard,” he said. “That was like a little train that just caught me when I had to step right in, but it’s definitely going to come. It is football, I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. So it’s like once you’re out there you’re nervous until the first play.”

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