IMG Academy is becoming a name that lights up the eyes of Clemson fans, as more and more of their graduates make it onto our football field. The latest signee is Mike Jones Jr. who enrolled at IMG after moving from Tennessee.
Jones Jr. was the very first commit of the 2018 cycle and there’s no doubt that he aided Clemson in landing 2018’s #3 overall prospect, IMG teammate Xavier Thomas. “Mike pressured me a lot about it, and I liked to mess with him and tell him how great USC would be.” Thomas said in The Clemson Insider, “But once I committed, I got pretty serious. I told him I would never de-commit, and I’m committed, just Clemson.” That commitment to Clemson is obvious in both players, and having played together all year at IMG can only be a boost to their chemistry coming into Clemson.
Jones Jr. ranks as the #15 OLB in the class of 2018, #210 player overall, and has a 0.9197 rating from the 247Sports Composite. He is a sure tackler, excels in coverage and has a high football IQ; look for him to maybe take on a role similar to Dorian O’Daniel’s role in the future. Coach Hobby did well to get Jones committed to Clemson in 2016 and even with his departure Jones remained loyal to Clemson.
Mike Jones Jr. is one of the harder pieces of the 2018 class to peg down. Jones wasn’t a star at IMG, but he was a solid contributor. He was a leader on the field and in the locker room at IMG among elite players and personalities. Bright, infectious personality.
He played some Safety early in his career and transitioned into a LB role at IMG. Like John said above, Jones profiles as a SAM backer right now in the mold of DO’D who could bulk up and move to WILL if he outgrows the position. He needs to improve his suddenness and ability to start and stop quickly. He has decent speed, but will need to continue to learn to play in coverage. Jones is 6.05’ and 225 pounds (maybe 6’1), decent height and weight for the position. Needs to improve his upper body strength a bit.
At IMG Jones was pretty good in coverage overall and the SAM position becomes a need on the defense without O’Daniel. Simmons plays more like a big Safety (although more and more he can do everything) than a SAM backer. The thing that makes DO’D so valuable and versatile is his ability to cover the slot. That took four years of grinding for Dorian to develop. Jones will need a similar amount of time to stay on the field as much as Dorian, but players like Jalen Williams have seen the field with less physical tools than Jones at this position. Jones should see a special teams role, however.
I will say that Jones has a knack for making big plays on the field and seems to always be around the ball. At IMG he was really good at diagnosing plays, getting guys aligned, and making the right reads (sniffing out screens and things). I like his instincts and I like how he squares up ball carriers and doesn’t get blown up in space. As I watched more film Kendall Joseph is a guy who comes to mind.