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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring primer: Jarvis Jones

A lot of people may be looking for Jarvis Jones to be the big playmaker on this year’s Georgia defense, to fill that void left by Justin Houston.

Jones, who has still yet to play a down for the Bulldogs, is being careful to avoid any bravado.

“I don’t know, I’m gonna go out there and play my heart out just like everyone,” Jones said after Thursday’s third day of spring practice. “All of us want to make plays. That’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to make plays and we’re going to have fun. I think we’re going to be a dominating defense.”

Jones isn’t actually filling the exact spot vacated by Houston, who left for the NFL after leading the SEC in sacks (10) during the regular season. Houston played the weakside, or “Will” outside linebacker spot in the 3-4 alignment. Cornelius Washington, a rising junior, began the spring with the first-team spot at the Will, but incoming freshman Ray Drew will compete there too.

Jones ends up at the strongside spot, the same one he occupied during his first and only year at Southern California. The Columbus native came off the bench for the Trojans, recording 13 tackles over eight games before a neck injury sidelined him the rest of the way.

After transferring to Georgia, Jones spent last fall in a green non-contact jersey. Jones, who had to sit out anyway per NCAA rules, said his neck was fine even before he left USC.

Once last season ended, the question became where to use Jones. Even though he played outside at USC, Jones admits he felt more natural in the middle. But when defensive coordinator Todd Grantham decided to shift Alec Ogletree from safety to inside linebacker, that put Jones on the outside.

“You’ve still gotta be able to manufacture a pass rush and have guys that make plays at outside backers,” Grantham said after announcing the Ogletree and Jones moves. “And I think what we’ve done is we’ve moved two guys that can make plays closer to the ball. Kind of around the action a bit more. So I’m excited by that.”

Jones is taking a whatever-they-want approach to it all.

“When I came here they told me they wanted me to play outside. Then they moved me to the inside on the scout team. Pretty much I want to be anywhere I can help my team,” he said. “I know I can play inside. Outside I’ve been learning a lot.”

He’s also taking a cautious approach to his own development. When asked about it, he started by saying, “I’ve been doing great,” then amended that.

“Well not great, but I’ve been doing well,” Jones said. “My teammates are really helping me to settle into my position. By moving Tree to middle linebacker it really helped our defense to play fast and be big and strong. So I think it was a great move for us all.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everything I have heard from this kid, he has been a leader. Trade him for Dowtin any day. No more Cancer.