A sophomore from Roanoke Rapids, N.C., Jones was absent for a significant portion of spring football season as he dealt with a personal issue. His emergence last season - leading the team in tackles for loss (7.5), and doing so as a redshirt freshman from the defensive tackle position - has him pegged as one of the team's most promising defensive talents.
Larry Fedora talks about the importance of game-changing plays, and Jones had two of the year's biggest last season.
His fourth-quarter interception at Virginia led to the game-winning touchdown. His sack in the first quarter at Duke forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and jumpstarted the Tar Heel rout, while also earning him ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors for his performance in that game against the Blue Devils.
In a post-practice interview, Jones spoke highly of the new defensive coaches and said that their influence has made a difference that is noticeable both on the field and in the locker room. In his third year in the program, Jones noted that he attempted to take a leadership position on the team in offseason workouts and is aiming to carry that over into training camp and then the season.
As important as it is for him to merely be in uniform, Jones has much bigger aspirations than just being present.
“I have big hopes this year," Jones told The Daily Herald. "I’m not new to it anymore; I’ve played in big stadiums, I’ve played in small stadiums, I’ve played against first-round draft picks and stuff like that so I think my feet are wet and it’s time for me to have a great year.”