Inside LB Countdown: Jones’ Career Notes

Here is a look at the statistical milestones and career accolades of Michigan State's Taiwan Jones. Jones, the No. 13 inside linebacker prospect, made the most out of his move to middle linebacker.

It took Taiwan Jones three years before he was able to convince Michigan State’s coaches to allow him to line up at his natural position — middle linebacker. You can’t fault the Spartans staff for delaying the inevitable moves, as the spot was well occupied by “old school Mike man” Max Bullough. In fact, with Jones now heading to the NFL, Max’s little brother, Riley, is scheduled to become Michigan State next middle linebacker.

Like Max Bullough, Jones was labeled “old school” while occupying strong-side outside linebacker duties. He was just occupying time at the position, as his obvious lack of speed sometimes made him the logical player to be replaced during passing situations. Even the player admits that his downhill skills were not beneficial to play that coverage-heavy position, where he would eventually start 17 of the 41 games he lined up at that spot.

Moving inside allowed Jones to not “count his calories” like he had to do when playing the “star” linebacker role, where he was required to be leaner, but the move inside allowed him to add 15 pounds to the 245-pound frame he had as a junior. He had some success with the position change, but playing such an impactful role, he was still a bit of a liability vs. the pass.

Losses to national finalists Oregon and Ohio State, though, included some mistakes before and after the snap, as managed just five tackles vs. each opponent. Outside of a 10-tackle performance vs. Nebraska, the middle linebacker was relegated to nothing more than a supportive role.

CAREER NOTES

Jones started 30-of-54 games at Michigan State — 17 at the “star” strong-side outside linebacker slot and 13 in the middle…Recorded 183 tackles (91 solos) with four sacks, 25.5 stops for losses and three quarterback pressures…Intercepted one pass and deflected four others…Caused one fumble and had a pair of fumble recoveries…In four bowl appearances, Jones recorded fifteen tackles.

2014 SEASON

Jones was named All-Big Ten Conference second-team by the league’s coaches after he took over middle linebacker duties as a senior…Received the President's Award (senior lineman: defense) for perseverance…Ranked second on the team with 60 tackles (31 solos) through thirteen starting assignments, adding four sacks for minus 19 yards while tying for the team lead with 12.5 stops for losses totaling 42 yards…Recovered two fumbles and caused another…Also recorded his only career interception…Credited with five tackles for the West in the 2015 East-West Shrine Game.

2014 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

Jones recorded six tackles in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic win over Baylor, including 1.5 for loss (5 yards), as he helped the Spartans limit the Bears to minus-20 yards rushing in the game…Recovered a fumble and had two tackles in road win at Penn State and posted five stops, including a half tackle for loss vs. Rutgers…Added four tackles, including a 1-yard loss, and his deflection of a C.J. Brown pass was intercepted by RJ Williamson and ran back 22 yards for a touchdown…Led the team with eight tackles, including two for loss (15 yards) and an 8-yard sack, to go along with his first career interception in the victory over Michigan, compiling a team-best 36 production points vs. the Wolverines…Posted five tackles, including 1.5 for losses (3 yards) and one sack at Indiana…Tied a career high with 10 tackles and set a career high with three tackles for loss (8 yards), including a sack (4 yards), while recording 29 production points in the victory over Nebraska…Tallied 12 production points vs. Wyoming (three tackles, including a 6-yard sack, to go along with a fumble recovery)…Had five stops at Oregon, including a 2-yard loss.

2013 SEASON

Jones started thirteen games at the “star” (strong-side outside) linebacker position, where he recorded a career-high 67 tackles (38 solos) with seven stops for losses of 16 yards, ranking fourth on the team…Ranked seventh on the defense with 157 production points…

Led the Spartans with eight tackles, including a 1-yard loss, in the 100th Rose Bowl Game vs. Stanford…Collected five tackles vs. Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game…

Recorded six stops, including one for a 2-yard loss, vs. Minnesota and tallied five tackles, including a 1-yard loss at Nebraska…Led MSU with six stops at Illinois and was in on five tackles, including a 6-yard loss, vs. Purdue…Added five stops vs. Indiana, including a 2-yard loss and made six tackles at Iowa…Did not start, but played a majority of the game at Notre Dame, recording five tackles vs. the Irish…Left the Youngstown State game in the first half (injury) and did not return…Registered two stops, including a 1-yard loss vs. South Florida…Produced six tackles in the season opener vs. Western Michigan.

2012 SEASON

Jones appeared in all thirteen games, starting at “star” linebacker vs. Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota…Recorded 38 tackles (19 solos), tied for eighth most on the team, as he also made 5.5 stops for minus 26 yards and deflected three passes…Tied for second on the team with five tackles on special teams…Collected five tackles, including a 5-yard loss at Minnesota…Had five stops and a pass break-up vs. Nebraska and posted seven tackles, including 1.5 for losses (12 yards) and an 8-yard sack, in an overtime win at Wisconsin…In his first career start, Jones recorded a season-high 10 tackles, including a 1-yard loss, and broke up a pass vs. Iowa…Had four tackles at Indiana, including a 5-yard loss.

2011 SEASON

Jones appeared in all fourteen games, primarily on special teams, but also served as the back-up at “star” linebacker behind Chris Norman…Collected 18 tackles (3 solos, 15 assists) and was the only true freshman on offense or defense to see playing time for the Spartans…Posted a season-high four tackles and a pass break-up vs. Indiana and made three stops each vs. Central Michigan and Florida Atlantic.

INJURY REPORT

2013 Season: Left the Youngstown State game with a leg contusion.

2009 Season: Missed all but two games during his high school senior season due to a knee injury.

AGILITY TESTS

4.95 in the 40-yard dash…1.72 10-yard dash…2.87 20-yard dash…4.33 20-yard shuttle…7.25 three-cone drill…32-inch vertical jump…9’-07” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 19 times…34-inch arm length…10-inch hands…81 1/2-inch wingspan.


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