Greg Jones’ Return is Huge for the 2010 Spartans

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By Jeff Ghiringhelli

The last couple of months have been anything but ideal for the Michigan State Spartans football team. After an underachieving 6-6 regular season, several players were suspended after a dorm fight in November. The suspensions doomed the Spartans in the Alamo Bowl against Texas Tech, which they lost 41-31. Needless to say, some good news was desperately needed.

Star linebacker Greg Jones provided that good news last week when he announced he will return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL Draft. Jones, who was third in the NCAA last season with 153 tackles, said that his stock in the draft was not good enough for him to leave. He is the clear-cut leader of the defense, and will be a positive mentor for the youthful Spartan linebacker corps.

Coach Mark Dantonio called it “huge for the football program” at the press conference where Jones made the announcement. He admires Jones’ hunger to get better, and said that for a player as good as Jones to return really speaks to his character. Jones simply did not want to have his tenure as a Spartan end with a 6-7 record, especially since just two seasons ago MSU went 9-3 and made a New Year’s Day bowl. Steps forward are needed, and he will be there to help make sure that happens.

Jones stands at six feet one inch tall, which is considered to be undersized in the NFL. However, it has been proven through other linebackers such as Zach Thomas and Tedy Bruschi that size does not tell the whole story. Jones has an excellent nose for the ball like those players, and can also get in the face of the quarterback as evidenced by his nine sacks in 2009. He can and probably will be successful at the next level, he would just like to improve his overall game next season.

Another reason for Jones’ decision to stay could be the other linebackers in the upcoming draft. Names such as Rolando McClain from Alabama, Brandon Spikes from Florida, and Navarro Bowman of Penn State are all in this draft. They are also all expected to be first round/early second round picks. Jones would probably not go that high, so staying another year to improve his stock is the best choice.

Jones wants a Big Ten Championship before he leaves Michigan State. He said that was part of the reason he is coming back. That may not happen next year, even with the ball-hawking linebacker in the middle, but there is one thing for sure. Without Jones back, Michigan State would have just about no chance to take home a title.

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