Throughout childhood, Greg Jones attended Rutgers games with dreams of running out the tunnel in a uniform of his own one day.
Jones projects to start his first home game for the Scarlet Knights when they take on Howard at High Point Solutions Stadium.
“It’s very emotional because a lot of my family’s going to be there, a lot of friends going to be there,” said Jones, a Colonia (N.J.) High product. “So I’m really excited.”
Jones earned his first -career start last Saturday at Washington. He racked up five tackles, a pass defended and a half sack.
Washington put Jones and the Rutgers defense to the test, but he said they learned from the mistakes.
“The game is fast,” Jones said. “I mean, I played in a whole bunch of other college schemes and a lot of teams that are pretty fast, but this game is so much faster at this level and you got to be ready for everything. And I learned that it’s a lot more film study comes into it than just what we do with the coaches, and I got to do a lot more on my own and a lot of us do.”
In defensive coordinator Jay Niemann’s scheme, Jones said Washington’s array of skill players forced him to balance between his contact with receivers and linemen.
“Just getting in contact with those guys so much faster,” Jones said. “I usually come from a little bit of a distance before I come in contact with a lineman and I could get my moves going. But right there, I’m up close and personal with them and I got to try to come in real fast.”
As Jones prepares for his second straight start at the SAM, sophomore Najee Clayton remains with the second-team defense in practice.
After the two converted linebackers battled through training camp, Jones said he and Clayton better each other.
“We’re helping each other,” Jones said. “This is something new for me as well. So we’re helping each other and he’s going to be real good when he gets along. And he’s real good right now, also.”
As Rutgers learns from its mistakes Washington in preparation for Howard, Jones said the needed adjustments for the defense are simple.
“We just got to go harder,” he said. “I mean, I feel like we did go hard and was out there sometimes. But, I mean, more consistency and going hard and pass-rush moves come along with it, and we’ll get to that.”