Jones Named Big Ten Defensive Player of Year

The Big Ten conference today announced today its post season honorees, at the top of the list was Michigan State junior linebacker Greg Jones who was named Big Ten defensive player of the year.

The Big Ten conference today announced today its post-season honorees, at the top of the list was Michigan State junior linebacker Greg Jones who was named Big Ten defensive player of the year by members of the media.

Jones finished second in the nation with 146 tackles, including a season-high fifteen, twice against Central Michigan and again against Penn State.

The native of Cincinnati and Moeller high school is expected to have a tough decision on whether to return to MSU for his senior season or to go to the NFL where he could be a possible first round pick.

"Greg Jones possesses all of the tools, the tangibles and intangibles, that make him a special player. He's an extremely tenacious and instinctive player. Greg plays with great effort and toughness, plus he's strong and quick. He's the clear leader of our defense, and when he's going, we're going as a unit.

"His selection as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year also points the way for other great linebackers to come here to Michigan State and make a statement. With the media attention this program gets and the defensive scheme that we play, great linebackers can come here knowing that they will get plenty of opportunities to make plays," said MSU coach Mark Dantonio.

Joining Jones on the first team all-conference team is senior wide receiver Blair White. White led the Spartans and finished fourth in the conference with 64 catches for 846 yards and eight touchdowns. White exploded for 12 catches, 186 yards and two touchdowns against Northwestern.

"Blair White has had an outstanding senior season, and he's very deserving of this recognition. He has been a go-to receiver for us all year long, and he's had a number of huge touchdown receptions. Blair is a sure-handed receiver, who runs disciplined routes, so he breeds confidence in our quarterbacks. He's been a major contributor on offense the last two years because he plays with such consistency. You can count on Blair to show up on game day.

"I don't know that I've ever coached a player who has grown more than Blair has during his career. We've had other walk-on success stories here before like Travis Key, who became a consistent playmaker at safety and was elected team captain by his peers.

By being named First-Team All-Big Ten by the coaches, Blair has taken things one step further.

Blair was been able to pursue excellence because he has all of the intangibles along with the raw athletic ability. He has provided great leadership for this team both on and off the field. Despite becoming a major playmaker on offense, Blair has never asked to back off of his responsibilities on special teams. He has done a tremendous job here in all aspects – on the field, off the field and in the classroom."

Senior kicker Brett Swenson, joins Jones and White on the first team all-conference squad after booting himself into the Spartans record book as its career leader in field goals and scoring.

"Brett Swenson has had a remarkable career here at Michigan State, completely rewriting the record book. You begin to appreciate what Brett has done here when you look at the great kickers who preceded him: Morten Andersen, Paul Edinger, John Langeloh and the list goes on and on. He was almost a unanimous selection as our team MVP and that speaks volumes," said Dantonio.

"He's made so many clutch kicks throughout his career that I trust him explicitly when the game is on the line. Brett just doesn't rush himself in those situations. He gets himself prepared on the sideline, so he's extremely focused and confident when he comes in to kick. In my opinion, Brett is the finest placekicker in the country because of his accuracy and mental toughness," he said.

Swenson remains in the hunt for a major national award. He is among the favorites for the Lou Groza award as the nation's top kicker.


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