Name: Kellen Jones
Weight: 225 lbs.
High school: St. Pius X High School in Houston, TX
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
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