If there’s one player Michigan State’s Greg Jones model his game on it’s former Spartan star Ike Reese. “Just natural ability, just seeing him play, he’s another Cincinnati guy like myself. I got to meet him at the Penn State game last year,” Jones said about Reese, who played in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons; earning a 2004 Pro Bowl slot on special teams. Today Reese hosts his own show, “Ike at Night” on 610 WIP AM in Philadelphia. But Jones himself probably a thing or two about the mainstream media, as he’s getting lots of love from it.
By Paul M. Banks
The All-American candidate was selected by the media as the preseason Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Just like he was in 2009. He enters his fourth season starting at linebacker in East Lansing and also on the watch list for three national awards: Butkus (top collegiate linebacker), Lombardi (college lineman of the year) and the Lott (defensive player of the year).
Rivals.com lists him as the 39th best player in college football, Sporting News picked him as the Big Ten’s “hardest hitter.” Jones is also ESPN.com’s 11th best player in the Big Ten. So obviously lots of football geeks think he’s a great linebacker, but how does he define what makes a linebacker great or not?
“The same thing you would see, a guy who makes plays every time, he’s consistent, he’s burning down the field, he’s everywhere. The guy who never takes a play off and if he does miss a tackler, he’s the guy who’s right there getting a tackle for a loss or a sack on the next play,” Jones responded.
His position coach described him as “an instinctive player with a great motor” and “a relentless competitor who never gives up on a play” The 6-1, 223 pound senior has a tremendous NFL potential (often projected in the first-third rounds, and #1 on 2011 NFL Draft Outside Linebacker lists).
At Big Ten Media Day, I asked him what his greatest strengths are “stopping the run” he responded. I also asked him what parts of his game needs help. “I want to work on the pass because I feel like I wasn’t effective enough in coverage I didn’t get a whole lot of turnovers, I just want to be a factor in the passing game, I feel I want to be more of a factor in the passing game,” Jones responded.
Jones was moved from the outside to the middle, and it’s expected that we might see him do more stunting this year. “It all depends on what Coach Narduzzi wants to do. If he wants to blitz or just play base, a lot of times coach will just say hey, we’re doing so good at base, we’re not going to switch it up unless I need to. He’s very smart about that,” Jones articulated on the topic.
Written by Paul M. Banks, president and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest-focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru