Greg Jones: The Straw That Stirs the Michigan State Spartans' Defense

Nick Mordowanec@NickMordoCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2010

STATE COLLEGE - NOVEMBER 22:  A.Q. Shipley #57 of the Penn State Nittany Lions blocks Greg Jones #53 of the Michigan State Spartans on November 22, 2008 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Greg Jones is a tackling machine.

The 6-foot-1 linebacker has 359 tackles over his first three seasons at Michigan State, including a whopping 281 tackles in his sophomore and junior seasons.

But that’s not all. The 2009 consensus first-team All-American is currently second in all of college football in terms of tackles and tackles per game (9.2), and has been named the 2010 Big Ten preseason defensive player of the year.

These accomplishments, as well as numerous others, help define the type of tenacious player Jones is on Saturdays. One word, though, characterizes what Jones means to the Spartans: leader.

Not the most physical specimen, Jones’ determination to get to the ball is what separates him from other defenders in the country. He is a definite ball-hawk, using his frame and intelligence to be efficient on the defensive side of the ball.

He also makes others around him better.

With players like William Gholston and Max Bullough stepping into their freshman campaigns this upcoming season, Jones will surely serve as a mentor for the talented youngsters. While questions still remain about the defensive unit headed by Pat Narduzzi, the defensive line and linebacking core present plenty of promise in 2010.

Jones has shown a lot of character, on and off the field. He is a team player, a true prototype of the player—and person—Mark Dantonio strives to recruit and have play at Michigan State. He just wants to win.

Jones—currently ranked eighth in Michigan State history in tackles—has a real opportunity to go out on a high note as a Spartan. He has played in a bowl game every year as a Spartan, but still doesn’t know how it feels to win one.

Individual accolades can only take somebody so far, but a team sports like football is about winning. The success of the whole is valued a lot more than the success for an individual. The players on Michigan State’s roster just need to put all of their talent together in order to achieve the ultimate goal.

Luckily for them, they have Jones—a defiant leader and bona fide team player. Jones’ senior season may be his finest performance, which is plain scary for everybody else.