By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Chris Jones may have been the most popular person in the state of Mississippi during the weeks leading up until national signing day in February.
Fans of Mississippi State and Ole Miss alike were glued to the Internet trying to find out the five-star defensive lineman from Houston’s next move.
Ultimately, Jones’ final move was not one at all. He had been committed to the Bulldogs since June and stuck by his word and signed his national letter of intent with them despite late pushes by the Rebels, Alabama and a host of other programs.
“I felt like (State) was going to have a great team a couple years down the road and if you want to be great you have to play against the greats,” Jones said. “That’s why I didn’t go to Ole Miss too. (Robert) Nkemdiche, that’s a great guy and I want to play against him. I didn’t want to play with him, as bad as that sounds.”
The Bulldogs were the first school to offer Jones, discovering him during a camp visit during the summer. He quickly committed and did not receive another offer until his senior season was complete at Houston.
Jones’ stock exploded following stellar showings during the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and Under Armor All-American Bowl. He jumped from a three-star all the way up to the nation’s No. 2 prospect by some recruiting services.
As hectic as his recruitment got down the stretch, Jones feels good about his decision.
“Not only do I like playing for coach (Dan) Mullen, I enjoy playing for Mississippi State University,” Jones said. “I like the campus, the atmosphere, I just love it around here and I think coach Mullen is a great guy.”
Jones has made an immediate impact on MSU’s defensive line as a true freshman appearing in all 10 games and drawing three starts. He has made 24 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks and a pair of pass breakups.
“I’m feeling more comfortable game after game,” Jones said. “I try to work on my mistakes from the last game and try to get better during the next week.”
The 6-foot-5 Jones has packed on 50 pounds up to 305 since his arrival but has maintained his speed giving him the ability to play multiple positions along the defensive line. Jones has played end, tackle and nose guard already this year.
“I feel like they’ve made me a better player,” Jones said. “At first it was a mad shock to me because when I first came in I just wanted to be an end and a pass rusher. But now they are completing me as a player as a whole.”
Jones is also confident about the future of the Mississippi State program.
“I feel like this year is a building year for our group of guys,” Jones said. “I feel like next year we’ll have a great shot at being a top five team if not the top team in the country.”