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Get to Know Your Orange Man: #3, LB Mikel Jones

Can he build on last year’s breakout season?

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Mikel Jones

Position: Linebackers

Year: Sophomore

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 218 lbs.

Hometown: Miami, Fla.

High School: IMG Academy

2020 stats: Jones started all 11 games and was selected as All-ACC Honorable Mention. Led all college linebackers with four interceptions and totaled 69 tackles, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a sack.

2021 projections: The leader of the linebacker corps, Jones is on the preseason Butkus Award list and receiving All-ACC consideration. While it would be hard to expect him to replicate last season’s takeaways, there is room for Jones to continue to be a force for the Syracuse Orange defense. His ability to play in space is important when facing spread offenses and he can help a younger defensive backfield as they take on starting roles.

How’d he get here?: The highest-rated recruit in Syracuse’s 2019 class Jones had a number of big-time offers including Clemson, Georgia, Auburn, West Virginia and Iowa State.

What’d recruiting sites say?: ESPN gave Jones 4 stars, and most places gave him three. His overall composite was just short of 4 stars, and with hindsight, was more indicative of his talent.

Money quote: When Tony White arrived with his 3-3-5 defense Jones wasn’t originally with the starters. He returned to Miami in March 2020 and vowed he’d show them he was ready to emerge as a leader for the Orange defense

“He has been different. He has made a move,” head coach Dino Babers said of Jones before the UNC game. “I would guess that Mikel did a fantastic job in those Zoom sessions, and it really gave him a head start so to speak once we got back to campus.”

Twitter feed: @KelxJones

Tweets of wonder: If you thought Mikel might be content with his success last season, it doesn’t appear so

What movie would Dino recommend for him?: This year we’re going with the football movie “Wildcats” which features actor Mykelti Williamson. A head coach trying to convince a team that they can come together and win seems fitting for the Orange.

Interesting nugget o’interest: Before IMG Academy, Jones played at Champagnat Catholic in Miami where one of his teammates was current Buffalo Bills defensive end Gregory Rousseau

Let’s get a look at ya: We take a look at one of his interceptions from last season