Maybe he wants to have the college experience before beginning his professional career. Whatever the reason, Tigers fans have to be happy that Chad Jones decided to play football for Les Miles, especially after last Saturday night. Miles obviously is.
"True freshman," Miles said. "You need to understand something, now. He showed up here after a little baseball practice in the summer and we said, ‘We're going to use you at free safety. Get you some dime package and stuff.' And, boy, he's been invaluable. Did a good job with the punts. Made a big play on that knockout ... Umpfh."
With approximately 1:42 to go in the fourth quarter of a tied game, Jones made one of the most dramatic plays of the 2007 season.
"We knew it was the time for a big-play opportunity," Jones said. "I slung him and I hit the ball with my arm. I saw it come loose and my teammates jumped on it."
The "him" Jones was referring to was
"We called it a couple of times in the game, and it was good to us," LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini said. "You can't live by it, but we were looking to be aggressive and go and make a play to win the football game."
In a game that ultimately turned into a back-and-forth-type battle, the Tigers stiffened to allow
"We felt like we had to pressure him," Jones said. "We didn't want to have them sit back in there. He's a very talented quarterback with capable receivers like (DJ) Hall, really good receiver. So, yeah, we felt like we had to get after him."
For Jones, the fumble he forced erased a bad memory from the first half.
Following a Matt Flynn interception that was returned 51 yards after the Tigers appeared to be driving to add to a miniscule 17-13 lead,
"It was supposed to split a zone," Brown said. "It was more like a two-trap, I guess. The guy that was covering me was inside. The safety was on top outside. I just made a great double move and the ball was in the air, and it was mine. That's all I know."
One of the players Brown had outjumped for the ball was Jones, and with 46 seconds to go in the first half, LSU seemed destined for a collapse of massive proportions. Despite holding
Ultimately, Jones ended the night with four solo tackles, including two sacks and a forced fumble. He also saw time as a punt returner, hauling in three boots and returning them for a combined 18 yards. The sacks were Jones' first of the season, and his forced fumble complements an acrobatic interception he pulled out of the air in LSU's game against
It may be some time before fans begin the comparisons of Jones to No. 1 NFL Draft pick LaRon Landry, but there are glimmers. Jones hits hard. He's a leader on special teams.
And in all nine of the Tigers games this season, he has contributed. But there's still a long way for Jones to go before he works his way into being a first-round draft choice of the world's premier football league. Fans are probably just thankful at the moment that he wasn't a first-round draft choice of the MLB. As for Jones himself, in his very short collegiate career, forcing the fumble against
"It's the best feeling I've had as a college football player," Jones said.
With trips to Atlanta and possibly New Orleans still on this season's horizon, perhaps Jones will have the opportunity to redefine "best" before the 2007 campaign is over.