Back then, in 2020, LSU’s linebacking group was an unknown, with the thought that the combination of veteran presence and talented upside would get the team through the season. It did not.
One year later, ain’t nothing changed, mostly. Ed Orgeron has assembled a patch work for linebacker, hoping the current group can blow up to provide stability as the young cats come along. Still, the players on campus come with an expectation that they could blow up and become stars. One of those players is none other than, Mike Jones Jr.
When you land a player in the transfer portal the initial thought often shifts to the negative: why is this player here and not at his old school? Usually it relates to playing time. That was not so much the case with Jones. He was a starter for most of his final year at Clemson and a productive one at that. Jones wanted to contribute more as a between the tackles linebacker and less as a more pass focused linebacker. Orgeron gave him that shot and in February Jones made it official with LSU.
If there is one plus for the Tigers it is that they have a pretty good track record when it comes to managing the transfer situation. The best news for the Tigers is that they, likely, know what they are getting in Jones. That stability alone is valuable. Having said that, I think it is okay to have some concerns about making the shift in position. Is Jones talented enough to be a positive contributor? Absolutely.
Ultimately, the job as a starting linebacker at LSU is likely Jones’ to lose. He has the kind of talent and skill that can hold down the unit and contribute enough quality plays to make the group a force to recon with, even if it isn’t the best part of the Tiger defense.
High End: Is amazing in his first season, departs early for the NFL
Low End: Can’t adjust to the new responsibilities and sees playing time reduced
Realistic: Is a glue guy on the defense and returns for his senior season.