Defensive tackle Chris Jones confirmed what had been anticipated for months, as Tuesday he formally declared he will leave Mississippi State for professional football.
“After discussing it with my family, I will forego my senior season at Mississippi State to enter the 2015 NFL Draft,” Jones said in a statement provided by MSU Media Relations. “The past three years in Starkville have been unforgettable, and I am proud to be a part of the legacy that we created. I want to thank my teammates and coaches, especially head coach Dan Mullen and defensive line coach David Turner for giving me the opportunity to wear the maroon and white. As I pursue a dream of playing in the NFL, I will always be a Bulldog.”
Jones never came out and said it openly during the 2015 season. Still all through the fall the third-year junior gave enough hints that he would call it a college career. As he told Dawgs’ Bite in December during Belk Bowl camp, “I always thought I was ready.” Jones meant not just this past season, but when he was a 2013 freshman right out of Houston High School.
Jones played as an alternate defensive end that rookie year with three starts. In 2014 he moved to defensive tackle, playing in the second rotation. This past season he finally became a full-time starter and compiled 44 total tackles with 7.5 for losses and 2.5 sacks. In the Belk Bowl he had five total stops.
For the three seasons Jones posted 102 total tackles, 18.0 of them for losses with 8.5 sacks. He started 16 of the 39 games played.
Jones joins wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson as 2015 Bulldog juniors who have announced, officially or privately, they are turning professional. Wilson did so the evening after returning from Mississippi State’s victory in the Belk Bowl.
Now attention turns to linebacker Beniquez Brown. A fourth-year junior this past season, the outside linebacker and two-year starter filed for a professional evaluation of his draft round possibility. At the Belk Bowl he would not comment on his plans, saying only he would wait until the season ended to make his decision.
Brown had 97 tackles this past season, second on the squad, and 4.0 sacks. He had one of his best career games in the Belk Bowl with nine tackles and 2.0 sacks.
Wide receiver Fred Ross, also a true junior like Jones and Wilson, is the other Bulldog being watched for early-entry consideration.
Deadline for NFL declaration by underclassmen is January 15.