Ole Miss had, statistically, the top defense in college football this season.
Bad news for opposing offenses, the Rebels are only getting better.
Four-star defensive tackle D.J. Jones announced for Ole Miss on Wednesday, the first day junior college players could sign with prospective schools. Jones, formerly of East Mississippi Community College, held additional offers from, among others, Alabama, Florida State, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State, Tennessee and South Carolina.
“I’m just going to get in there and show what I can do and hopefully get a starting spot,” Jones said. “They need some more help in the middle of their line next fall and they want me to be a part of it.”
The 6-foot-1, 310-pound Jones recently helped EMCC to a national championship. One of his teammates, four-star quarterback and former Clemson Tiger Chad Kelly, signed with Ole Miss today, as well.
Jones joins a Rebel defense that ranked first in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 13.8 points per game. The defensive line returns all of its principal players next season, including soon-to-be junior Robert Nkmediche, who was named second-team All-America by the Associated Press on Tuesday.
“Strength and power, of course,” Jones said, when asked of what he brings to the table. “I feel like my speed is a big thing, too. I weight over 300 pounds and still run a 4.8-something (40-yard dash). I just have a lot of knowledge of the game. I create some matchup problems.
“I’m just ready to get to the next level and learn as much as I can and become a better player.”
Jones said his relationship with Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and defensive line coach Chris Kiffin was a contributing factor in his decision.
“Coach Freeze and coach Kiffin have been recruiting me since my freshman season. My relationship with them is really good,” he said.
“D.J. is very family oriented," Jones' father, Dave, said. “I think Ole Miss provides a family atmosphere that attracted him. Plus, they have the No.1 defense in the country. You combine those two things along with the organization that coach Freeze is running and it really became a simple decision for him."
Ole Miss finished 9-3 last season, including a 5-3 mark in Southeastern Conference games. The No. 9-ranked Rebels will face No. 6 TCU in the Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl – one of the six tie-in bowls for the new College Football Playoffs – Dec. 31 on ESPN.
Jones has two years to play two.
Scout Evaluation: His height will scare some recruiters, but it shouldn't. Jones is immovable by a single blocker once he sets his feet. He has tremendously quick feet giving him an edge off the snap, and it allows him to spin his way out of an offensive lineman's clutches. Extremely quick in short bursts ideally a defensive tackle, but still strong enough to play a nose guard in a 3-4. – Greg Powers, national recruiting analyst