After playing mostly on special teams in his first three seasons, Deion Jones is getting an opportunity to earn a starting spot as the weakside (or Will) linebacker in LSU’s 4-3 base defense. Jones talks about his long journey to possible starter in his senior season.
You kind of paid your dues making big hits on special teams and finally you’re the No. 1 guy at your position. How does it feel?
It feels real good. … I only have one start in my career and that came last year (replacing an injured Kwon Alexander). Hopefully, I’ll have a lot more this year.
How has it gone for you so far in preseason camp with a new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele?
It’s gone pretty well. Coach Steele and the guys in the (linebackers) room have been helping each other out getting the scheme down. The whole defense, pretty much, is kind of jelling together with coach Steele in what he’s saying and what he’s teaching.
You lost some linebackers from 2014, so the spring was your big opportunity to show what you could do. What was that like?
It was kind of rocky at first with the new scheme and stuff, but after a couple of practices it got a lot better. Coach Steele did a great job teaching us and all the defensive coaches emphasized to us how important it is to learn the scheme quickly — and it made it pretty easy for us.
Was there a lot of change for the linebackers?
It hasn’t been much. It’s just been tweaked in different ways, but it’s nothing major.
You played in all 39 games since you’ve been here. Did you ever think you would get your chance?
Every year I go in working and hoping I would get the starting job. But there’s competition every day. I was working hard making sure I did what I had to do to get on the field.
What turned the tide for you? What got you over the hump?
I guess effort and getting to the ball. Guess that’s it.
Who’s playing behind you right now?
(Sophomore) Donnie (Alexander) and he’s been getting after it, too. He’s giving me a run for my money. He’s playing fast and doing real good, and you all are going to see a lot from him.
How much have your teammates helped you and encouraged you to get this starting job?
They’ve really been great. … They’ve encouraged me and competed with me to help me get better. It’s like a brotherhood on our defense; we all help each other. If (middle linebacker) Kendell (Beckwith) has a question, I try to answer it ... and if I have a question, he can help me out. It’s all about communicating on the field.
You have to be good friends with the middle linebacker, right?
Yeah, but we’re all pretty close. We’re a trip, to tell you the truth.
How has preseason camp been?
Camp is camp, it’s rough. It’s hot some days and sometimes we’re tired, but we push each other through it. When you get in a game and it’s crunch time, you have to be able to rely on each other.
Where did you nickname ‘Debo’ come from?
Debo is the nickname my dad (Cal Jones) gave me. At first, it was from the movie ‘Friday,’ but his favorite two NFL players were Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson. So he just put those two together.