Potential-wise, One of the Best in the Nation

He hasn't even played a down of college football yet, but freshman linebacker Jamie Jones is already earning high praise from Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom.

"Jamie is a heck of a talent," said Croom. "He's going to be an outstanding player. I think he can be one of the better linebackers in the country. I don't think there is any question about that.

"We thought he was the best linebacker that we recruited last year. We were very fortunate to get him. And we are extremely happy to have him in our program."

And Jones is going to do his part to make sure he lives up to such lofty expectations.

"It is good to have your coach think so highly of you," he said. "That gives you something to work toward. You don't want to let them or yourself down. So, I need to work harder and play harder and do everything I can to be one of the best in the country."

At one point during the recruiting process it appeared to be a longshot that Jones would even step foot on the MSU campus this past fall, but through a lot of hard work in the class room he did what needed to be done.

"Here's a guy who started out academically like he wasn't going to do well coming out of high school, but he worked through it and got himself eligible," said Croom. "(MSU assistant coach) J.B. Grimes did a great job of staying with him and working through his eligibility process."

And it appears Jones continued that hard work in the class room once he got to State.

"And (Jamie) he did an outstanding job academically this semester," said Croom.

Although big things are expected of Jones during his career, Mississippi State was so loaded with talented linebackers this year that they had the luxury of redshirting the talented youngster. And it's work out great for all concerned.

"Getting to redshirt my first year allowed me to get used to everything - the system, getting the school work down," said Jones. "It has been a good experience just learning about everybody and getting to know all of them."

But Jones is ready for spring practice to get here. Redshirting is ok, but nothing compares to playing for a position.

"I'm hoping to get a spot on the defense and, if not in front of, at least behind (Dominic) Douglas and (Anthony) Littlejohn," said Jones, who feels his strongest point is his speed and size combination.

And it looks like his position coach will continue to be Ellis Johnson. Johnson, as most of you know, made the finalist lists for the South Carolina and Georgia Tech defensive coordinator jobs. But it now appears he will be back coaching the MSU linebackers once again. And Jones couldn't be happier.

"Coach Johnson has helped me out a lot, just the way he talks to you and helps you learn things," said Jones. "I think he's one of the best coaches that I have ever come in contact with. And he's just a great all-around guy."

Now we can look forward to seeing how well Johnson can help fulfill Croom's opinion of this very talented youngster.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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