Hogs Feel Jones' Impact — And It Hurts

FAYETTEVILLE — For the most part, Arkansas defensive tackle DeQuinta Jones is considered an easygoing freshman who's known to his teammates simply as "D.D."

But as he stood on the sidelines Saturday, waiting to go in for Florida's final drive, Jones wanted to get his emotions racing a little bit more. So he turned to fellow defensive tackle Lavunce Askew and asked him for a favor.

Jones wanted Askew to slap him hard several times in the face. It was something Jones had done a few times in high school to get "geeked up" before a big game. Being a good teammate, Askew — all 6-foot-3, 290 pounds of him — obliged.

"They were pretty good (slaps)," Jones said, laughing. "But you know, he had on gloves, so I couldn't really get the whole effect of it."

As he has shown over the first half of the season — and particularly in last week's 23-20 loss at second-ranked Florida — Jones is a different breed.

Determined not to redshirt his freshman season, the 6-foot-5, 307-pound defensive tackle has had an immediate impact for the Razorbacks by creating havoc upfront. He seemingly never stops moving and has become a handful to block lately.

Jones recorded two of Arkansas' six sacks on Florida quarterback Tim Tebow last weekend, finishing with a career-high five tackles. And when lined up next to fellow defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard, the freshman has made it tough for opposing teams to block both of them at the same time.

"From the first time he stepped on campus and the first he did summer drills with us, you could tell he was already a step ahead of any other freshman," Sheppard said. "... He hasn't let off any."

Jones wasted little time getting to Tebow, recording his first career sack when he dropped the Heisman Trophy winner on a third-and-10 play on Florida's opening drive. The sack went for a 6-yard loss, forcing Gators' kicker Caleb Sturgis to attempt a 37-yard field goal he pushed wide left.

Jones' second sack came in a similar situation.

Facing a third-and-9 on Florida's first series of the second half, Jones faked hard in one direction, then came around and tackled Tebow for a 13-yard loss. As a result, Sturgis had to attempt a 51-yard field goal, which he made.

"We knew the minute that (Jones) was here (at Arkansas) how he has an opportunity to be a special player and not only because he's so talented physically — his size, his strength, his ability to bend and redirect — but he plays with a great motor," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "He plays hard every play, and he's always running down the field to the ball."

Even though he's started only one game this season, Jones is tied with Arkansas defensive end Bequette for third on the team in sacks with two. He has 16 tackles, and thanks to his performance against Florida, he has quickly become the talk of the town back home in Bastrop, La.

"Everybody I've been talking to, they've been telling me that's the whole talk around Bastrop is me, me, me, me," Jones said. "I pay little attention to it, but I just don't get big-headed. I just try to keep on coming out and performing to my highest level."

Arkansas coaches decided to give Jones his first start in an Oct. 10 game against Auburn after the freshman had a better week of practice than sophomore Zach Stadther. Stadther had started the previous 12 games at defensive tackle, but Jones responded with three solo tackles in the 44-23 win.

"The thing you love about D.D. is he's not playing like a typical freshman out there. He's playing aggressive," Arkansas defensive tackles coach Bobby Allen said. "He's always going to give you great effort to the football."

And sometimes he'll take a slap to the face as well.

DeQuinta Jones

Age: 18

Size: 6-foot-5, 307 pounds

Class: Freshman

Hometown: Bastrop, La.

Notable: Jones earned his first start in a 44-23 win over Auburn on Oct. 10, recording three solo tackles and helping slow down Gus Malzahn's high-powered offense. He followed that with the best game of his short career at then-No. 1 Florida. Jones recorded his first career sack in the opening minutes, and he added another one early in the second half of the 23-20 loss. He has 16 tackles in six games, and he's tied for the team lead in yardage loss on sacks at minus-19 yards.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories