2011 Countdown: #64 Kellen Jones, Wolverine

2011 Countdown: #64 Kellen Jones, Wolverine

June 28, 2011
Kellen Jones

Name: Kellen Jones
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 225 lbs.
High school: St. Pius X High School in Houston, TX
Position: Linebacker
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #52
Last year: Jones was a senior in high school (no commitment post)

For a moment I forgot why I never posted about Jones’ commitment.  Now I remember – I was vacationing at the beach and had better things to do (in other words, sitting in a hot tub, playing Frisbee, using my superior height to dominate in pool volleyball, and checking out the . . . sunsets).  But I’m not at the beach now, so this might be a little long winded.

I was thoroughly excited about Jones’ commitment.  He’s a missile-like 6’1″ and has reportedly put on 10 lbs. since his senior year year, when he was listed at 215.  The size isn’t particularly intimidating right now, but he obviously works hard in the gym and has been following Michigan’s workout regimen this spring.  I see no reason why he can’t bulk up to 240-ish pounds in a couple years.

Jones had offers from the likes of Arizona, Arkansas, Boise State, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Purdue, Stanford, Texas A&M, and Virginia, among others.  Scout ranked him as a 4-star and the #12 middle linebacker.  He was a 3-star, the #29 inside linebacker, and the #69 player in the state of Texas to Rivals.  ESPN placed him as a 3-star and the #35 outside linebacker, and 247 Sports ranked him as a 3-star, too.  As a senior in 2010, he had 110 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks.

The best parts of Jones’ game are his intelligence and instincts.  He has a knack for finding the ball even if he has to wade through the trash.  Furthermore, as a high school middle linebacker, he has experience playing the position, which ought to enhance the speed with which he picks up the college game.  Once he finds the ball, he’s a solid tackler who could be a devastating hitter once he puts on the necessary weight and refines some tackling technique issues.  There are times where he just hits guys and lets his weight drag down the ballcarrier, which isn’t going to work in the Big Ten, at least not until he hits 240 or so.

Jones’ size has led some to believe that he’ll be headed for the WILL position at Michigan, but he was recruited to play the MIKE.  And when I watch him on film, the MIKE seems to be where he’s best suited.  Jones plays sideline-to-sideline rather than downhill.  As a MIKE in a 4-3, he needs to flow from side to side and make tackles all over the field.  The WILL linebacker needs to read the play and go now (a skill that 2012 linebacker James Ross possesses in spades), and while Jones diagnoses plays quickly, it just doesn’t seem to be his style to get upfield.  Other than when his coaches sent him on blitzes (which was often), most of his plays seemed to be made a couple yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

If you had asked me back in January, I would have said that Jones might be the #2 middle linebacker this fall. However, the return of Marell Evans to the team makes that a little more questionable.  Evans played well at MIKE this spring and while I expect him to play WILL this fall, he could slide over to MIKE if Demens suffers an injury.  It would seem that Jones will be in a constant battle for playing time with Demens a redshirt junior and then the stellar 2012 linebacker class (Royce Jenkins-Stone and Joe Bolden, in particular) pushing him after Demens graduates.

TTB Rating: 78

Prediction: Special teams contributor; backup linebacker


  1. Comments: 21384
    Jun 28, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    I'm both a little surprised and excited that you rated him this low. I would expect Jones, based on recruiting hype and current LB depth, to be talented enough to compete for PT early. At the same time, true freshmen in the 2-deep in the front seven is rarely a good thing, so the fact that you think he'll struggle to contribute is pretty good news.

    Hopefully Marell Evans can do what you expect rather than what I expect. I can see Jones getting an extended try out for PT against Western, Eastern and SDSU. Then Jones or Evans will back up Demens, which should mean at least 7-10 plays per game even in the B1G season, no?

  2. Comments: 21384
    Jun 28, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    @ Rik 7:43 a.m.

    I think he'll compete for playing time, but with Demens, Evans, Fitzgerald, Morgan, and Bell able to play MLB in addition to Jones, he's not necessarily an extremely valuable player at this point.

    Whoever wins the #2 job could probably expect about 10 snaps a game. I don't know if that will be Jones, though. If you're not on the two-deep at linebacker, you probably won't play much when it gets to the Big Ten season.

    But he's pretty good. I won't be surprised either way.

  3. Comments: 21384
    Jun 28, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    Hey Magnus,
    No prediction for the year? Redshirt? Special Teams?

    Love these features,


  4. Comments: 21384
    Jun 28, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    @ JeepinBen 8:26 a.m.

    It ain't much, but I fixed it. I don't think he'll redshirt.

  5. Comments: 21384
    Painter Smurf
    Jun 28, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    I concur that he will not redshirt – unless the coaches want an epic logjam when the 2012 recruits arrive. I think he will be a little ahead of Morgan due to his experience and potential pass coverage skills. Also expect him to pass Isaiah Bell immediately in camp. Evans will probably be better than Jones this season, but giving a lot of back-up snaps to Evans does not make a ton of strategic sense. Also, it will be interesting to see what the coaches do with Demens on passing downs. If Jones can pick up zone coverage, there may be a role for him there. I am getting excited about the 2011 LB class. I think Jones, Poole, and Clark fit into Mike, Will, and Sam positions nicely and all three of them look like they have the necessary raw talent. Even though Poole was (rightfully) hyped in the Big 33 game, Clark also showed some surprising athleticism on the edge. Throw in Morgan as a potential thumper, and I think the LB position group is well on its way to getting fixed. After so many years of weak LB recruiting, the coaches are now making it look like a walk in the park.

  6. Comments: 21384
    Jun 28, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    I have to admit – I have no freaking clue how the MLB/WLB 2-deep is going to look besides Demens.

  7. Comments: 21384
    Jun 28, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    The 2012 LB class will probably mostly red-shirt. Ross may be too good to wait but the others probably will, just due to numbers and depth.

    2012 returning LBs:
    K.Demens (returning starter)
    C.Gordon (returning starter)

    That's a lot of people to leapfrog at a position where true freshman rarely contribute.

  8. Comments: 21384
    Jun 28, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    With such a deep LB pool in the coming years, would you predict more substitution packages with LB's switching in and out mid-game in order to keep the LB core fresh on the field?

  9. Comments: 21384
    Jun 28, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    @ Paul 12:40 p.m.

    Typically, linebacker isn't a position in which you want to do a lot of substituting, in my opinion. Those guys are usually in pretty good shape, and they're also some of the more intuitive players on the field. They pick up cadences, stances, alignments, signals, etc. that the #2 guy, who's not on the field, might not see/know.

    It won't hurt to have depth, but I don't think it will make for a revolving door at linebacker. You'll probably get two guys at each position who see a lot of snaps, and no matter how good the #3 guy is…his snaps are probably going to come with the practice squad.

  10. Comments: 21384
    Jun 28, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    First play on that highlight film is amazing to watch, just absolutely punks that guard getting ready to pull

  11. Comments: 21384
    Jun 29, 2011 at 6:37 PM


    I'm glad you share my enthusiasm about Jones. I like everything about this kid, but what I like most of all is his dedication to Michigan football. He never wavered in his commitment, even throughout the worst of the season and subsequent CC. I feel like he goes a bit unnoticed (at least, amongst the MGoBlog crowd).

    I'm gonna be keeping an eye on him the next couple years.

    – Beenplumb

  12. Comments: 21384
    Aug 16, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    oops ^^^^^^^^

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