It was a good 15 degrees cooler in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Monday morning than it was in Fayetteville, but freshman defensive tackle DeQuinta Jones was not feeling the heat.
Instead the former Bastrop (La.) standout Jones (6-5, 307) was feeling very comfortable with his University of Arkansas practice jersey and pads on instead of donning the Maize and Blue one of Michigan.
Jones, who had 70 tackles, three sacks and two fumble recoveries his senior season and goes by D.D., had committed to the Wolverines before flipping to the Razorbacks late and spurning offers from Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama and Ole Miss.
"I grew up watching SEC football and that is the conference I wanted to come play in," Jones said. "I had committed to Michigan before I came here to visit. In the end I just decided I didn't want to go to a Big Ten school, I wanted to stay in the South. It may be hotter here now, but it will also be warmer here when it is freezing up there."
When he looked at the three SEC schools on his list, he saw a program he liked more than the other two and the opportunity to play right away.
"I know the D-line needed a little help and the (Arkansas) coaches got that across to me," Jones said. "So I have just tried to come work my way in here and get some playing time and do everything I can do to help our team be successful."
He is certainly an SEC-looking defensive tackle even as an 18-year-old freshman.
"I think I bring a lot of height and weight to the defensive line and I can do a little speed rushing," Jones said. "I think in the first or second game I will see what college ball is all about, but I am confident I am going to be able to make plays at this level.
"I know it isn't going to come easy, but I plan to work my butt off to make it happen," Jones added. "I will work really hard."
Like most freshmen, he has seen the difference in how a high school practice is run as opposed to a college one.
"These first few practices up here at Arkansas have been at a fast, fast tempo," Jones said. "It wasn't like this in high school. I am just trying to get used to everything and fit in and do the best I can to work my way on the playing field."
Jones came up as soon as he graduated in an effort to ensure his chance to play this season.
"I think that getting here early allowed me to get use to a lot of things, meeting a lot of players and going through some drills and workouts with them," Jones said. "It also allowed me to get used to the coaching staff. I think I have an upper hand on the people who arrived later.
"We lifted weights, ran a lot and that got us in pretty good shape," Jones continued. "I think everything was the best for us."
While Jones is taller than any of the other defensive tackles, he still has been taken under the wing of older defensive tackles such as Malcolm Sheppard, Zach Stadther, Patrick Jones, LaVunce Askew and Alfred Davis.
"They have taken me under their wing and are helping me out with little tips and ways to get things done," Jones said. "We are all competitors, but I can go to them and they come to me about where I need to be and what to do. Malcolm Sheppard has been a really big help."
Putting the D in Defense
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