Kendell Jones has found a fresh role in Mississippi State’s new defense.
Jones spent his redshirt season working as a defensive tackle in Manny Diaz‘s 4-3 scheme but was shifted outside when new coordinator Peter Sirmon started implementing a 3-4 defense in the spring.
“My role is to set the edge at end,” Jones said. “Last year under coach (David) Turner, I was on the inside and they moved me back outside. My job is to contain the edge. I’m more natural on the outside but if they want me to play inside I will. I can play anything on the d-line.”
Jones dominated on the edge as a defensive end at Clay-Chalkville High School. He notched 77 tackles as a senior including 17.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks and forced a fumble.
The former three-star prospect drew double digit scholarship offers but got the one he wanted from the Bulldogs and has no regrets after his first year with them.
“I’m loving State,” Jones said. “They’ve progressed me really well. It was my first choice so I think I made a pretty good one.”
Although Jones played at the highest prep level possible in Alabama, he is quick to admit that things are much tougher in the Southeastern Conference.
“It’s a major difference,” Jones said. “The game is way faster than it is in high school. When you’re playing in a conference like this, there’s a lot of big changes.”
Jones feels fortunate that he was able to redshirt his first year on campus. He packed on 20 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame and will begin the fall weighing in at 280.
“I think it was good for me to redshirt,” Jones said. “I was a little light coming in and they had to put some weight on me so it really wasn’t a big deal for me to redshirt because I knew I needed to.”
Jones began working with the Bulldogs’ new defensive line coach Brian Baker this past spring. Baker brings 19 years of NFL coaching experience to Starkville and has shown Jones some new tricks to add to his repertoire.
“He’s a pretty good guy,” Jones said of Baker. “He’s teaching me a lot of new stuff. I’ve really maintaining it and taking it all out there on the field.”
Jones put those pointers to use during MSU’s three spring scrimmages where he recorded 10 tackles including a sack.