Top Veterans: No. 3 Blatnick & Jones

This is another installment of our preseason series on the Top 10 Veteran Players for 2011. To be eligibile you have to be a veteran player that has either started or played a significant role as a backup player. The criteria to be on this list is that you play a vital position to the success of this season.

No. 3 (tie) - Richetti Jones, DE
6-3, 270, Sr.
Dallas (Lincoln), Texas

Jamie Blatnick, DE
6-3, 272, Sr.
Celina, Texas

That's right, I cheated and put two players at number three. These two go together as they will be instrumental leaders on the defensive front this season. Personally, I thought Blatnick got a bad rap for his off-the-field incident last year in which some details never got out.

Blatnick is a good man, smart, and under control. That is what made it all so shocking to the coaching staff and many folks that know him. He has recovered in many ways and he has the respect of his teammates and that will be important this season.

Jones, his batterymate at defensive end has always been a tremendous communicator and has really picked up his play the last two seasons after fighting through a very serious hip (fractured) injury from his senior year in high school.

The fact that these two have overcome obstacles will help this season as they work hard to help some younger players along that will be beside them and just behind them.

Another aspect that ties the two together is that both have put on some weight this offseason and summer. Jones reported the other day that he weighs 270 and Blatnick weighs 272. Earlier this week in strength testing both players went over 500 pounds on their bench press max. That is extremely impressive.

Last season Jones had 34 tackles (25 unassisted) with seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He also forced a fumble. Blatnick, who missed the first game, had 27 tackles (18 unassisted) with 5.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

This season the pair really need to combine for more than 100 tackles. It would be great to see each around 12 tackles for loss and seven or eight sacks a piece. They are both capable of putting up those numbers

The results in the weight room this summer are very encouraging. Two seniors that both care a great deal about the program and both want to leave a strong legacy. Strong being the key word there.

Top 10 Veteran Cowboys
No. 10 Grant Garner
No. 9 Quinn Sharp
No. 8 Nigel Nicholas
No. 7 Josh Cooper
No. 6 Johnny Thomas
No. 5 Markelle Martin
No. 4 Shaun Lewis

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