Jones Excited About Expanded Role On Defense

Auburn freshman defensive back Jonathan Jones talks about getting in the action against Ole Miss and his bond with Josh Holsey and T'Sharvan Bell.

Auburn, Ala.—When Auburn signed cornerbacks Josh Holsey and Jonathan Jones, the future seemed bright for the Tigers' secondary with the two speedsters looking to be the answer for years to come. Six games into the 2012 season the future is now for the duo as both started last week against the Ole Miss Rebels and played well against an explosive offensive attack.

While Holsey had gotten action the two previous games on defense, for Jones it was his first experience on defense after playing well on special teams early in his freshman season. Playing well at times and showing that he can be physical, Jones finished with seven tackles and said it was great just to get a feel for playing defense on this level for the first time.

"It was pretty decent," Jones said of his play. "There's always room for improvement, I saw some areas where I can do better from here on out.

"You definitely look at it different," he added of playing defense for the first time. "You think about things different as far as being out on the field. Getting the jitters out of the way, and now you look at each week different in the sense you study a little bit harder. You're going to be prepared for anything."

Preparation has been the key for both Jones and Holsey this year in trying to learn a complex defense under first-year coordinator Brian VanGorder. While Holsey got in early last summer to get a feel for things, Jones was a month behind and he said it took him a little longer to catch onto things.

"He had actually got in before me so he was definitely telling me look out for this, watch out for this, from his previous experience in the LSU game," Jones said. "He definitely gave me some tips and some ideas once I got in Saturday. It helped."

Sharing ideas on how to improve is something both do every day, both on the field, and at home. Roommates and close friends since their days as recruits and track standouts in Georgia, Jones said having someone in the same situation makes it easier to make the adjustment to playing at this level.

"We'll hear each other talking about different concepts and different schemes from time to time, which routes we might have saw," Jones said. "It helps being around each other a lot, feedback on what we saw. It was good chemistry on and off the field."

While they have each other to talk with, perhaps the most important conversations take place with veteran defensive back T'Sharvan Bell. One of Auburn's leaders on defense and an unselfish player, Bell has taken both players under his wing to help them along in their development.

"He's an assistant coach, really," Jones said. "He's always in my ear getting on me if I mess up, correcting me, telling me watch out for this. He helps me and Josh both. He's like a mentor."

While it's easy to see an outgoing player like Bell stepping into that role, making it even more impressive is that he's doing it for players that have taken over his playing time. Now down to just a role on special teams for the Tigers at the moment, Bell has continued to help out Jones and Holsey to make them better players and Jones said it's something he'll always remember.

"It takes a good man to do that, and he's definitely a great man," Jones said. "He's somebody to look up to. He's a great role model. It's easy once you're playing, but once they take it, he definitely stepped up and helped us."

With several more young players expected to continue to get more and more playing time on the defense in the coming weeks, including linebacker Cassanova McKinzy this week, Auburn's defense is laying the foundation for success down the road. Jones said he's excited to think about the future at the cornerback position when he and Holsey can control the outside for the Tigers.

"Hopefully we can both keep our play up," Jones said. "It can be something for the next three or four years, to get to the point where they don't want to throw to either side."

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