Datone Jones on the NFL Draft

Datone Jones talks about his reasons for coming back to UCLA, what he heard about his draft status, and where he thinks he fits into Jim Mora's plans for the defense...

Q: How seriously were you considering leaving for the NFL?

A: I was really serious about leaving, you know. I felt like I had a chance to get my foot in the door. I felt like I had a chance to feed my family. And I felt like I had a chance to enter into the next level, so I was really considering it. But there were other things I had to consider too, like graduating, and coming back and playing another season with my guys. So that was it.

Q: Did you talk to any NFL scouts to get an idea of your draft status?

A: Not really. The thing is, I know that I probably would have been drafted. Probably not too high, but the thing is I know that I can play at the next level. I have next level talent. And I realize I could play. I talked to a lot of my teammates that are in the league now, and got their opinions. And so I based it off a lot of that.

Q: You say it was primarily the chance to play another year and also the opportunity to graduate that made you stay. Was there anything else entailed in the decision?

A: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I can be an All American at UCLA. If you've got a chance to do it, then why not, right?

Q: Did Coach Mora talk to you at all about the decision?

A: He didn't. I know he's a great guy, and he would like to have me back. I wasn't really able to talk to him before that time. He's a great guy and I look forward to playing for him and being coached by him.

Q: Have you met with Mora since he got there, aside from the team meeting a couple of weeks ago?

A: Oh yeah, I met with him a few times. He's a great guy so far. He's got our best interests at heart. He's going to be great, and he's going to push us, and he seems like the type of guy who wants the best for us.

Q: What do you think of Angus McClure taking over as your defensive line coach? Does it worry you that he has more of an offensive background?

A: I've known him since I was in high school. I think he's going to do great. I'm really excited to play for him. He's coached on defense before, and we're going to get an interesting perspective because he's coached so much offense. He's coached every offense aside from the Wing-T, so we'll be getting that kind of insight when he's coaching us.

Q: Overall, was this season a disappointment for you, either personally or for the team as a whole?

A: No. The way I look at is this, we were 4-8 a year ago, and this year we were 6-6 and got to play in the Pac-12 championship game and then played in a bowl game. We climbed a step. And now we're not losing too much talent, and we've got a new coaching staff, so there's a lot pointing toward a big year next year. For me personally, I was hurt last year, and I think I did pretty well coming back from not playing an entire year. I led the team in tackles for loss, and sacks, so I think there's a lot to build on for next year.

Q: Do you think the new staff will have you playing defensive tackle or defensive end? Which feels more comfortable for you?

A: I think it really depends on whether we're going to be playing a 3-4 or a 4-3. If we're doing a 3-4, I'm almost definitely going to be a defensive end, playing the five technique or whatever. If we're in a 4-3, I'm guessing I'd see more time inside at the 3 technique. I'm comfortable at either, and I think I can play at a really high level at either position. I'm just excited to get next season started.

Q: So, when does next season start for you?

A: Individual work starts on the 23rd, but I've been working out this whole time. I never stop working. I never quit.

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