OXFORD, Miss. — Last year, Ole Miss cornerback Jaylon Jones suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the Rebels’ opener against Texas Tech. Up until his injury, Jones was dominating on the field with 7 tackles and a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Against Memphis in the 2019 season-opener, the 5-foot-11, 183-pound cornerback notched four tackles, including two tackles for loss, in his first game since suffering the ACL injury. Last weekend against Arkansas, Jones continued to stand out on the edge as he tallied another four tackles, a tackle for loss, and two pass breakups during the contest.
Jones says there are no lingering effects from his injury.
“None,” he began. “I can’t thank the training staff and the coaching staff enough,” he continued.
“I feel each week I’m getting better. The confidence is getting there. I’m getting my feet wet every weekend. So, I can just feel the confidence getting higher and higher.”
Ole Miss CB Jaylon Jones
With the way he’s been playing so far, it certainly appears Jones is 100 percent healthy.
Defense not settling for current progress
Even though the defense is dramatically better this year than last and has done a good job of making one-on-one tackles in open space, Jones says defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre isn’t settling for the progress that has been made so far.
“Coach Mac is not impressed too much with our tackling, so we still have a lot of work to do on that,” stated the junior cornerback.”If you watch these last couple of games, we’re bursting to the ball and stuff, but it’s the initial tackle…wrapping up and stuff. He just wants us to be perfect, like we all do,” he added.
The players are not satisfied either with the improvement they’ve made so far.
“We started practice Tuesday, and guys came in ready to work,” Jones said after the win over Arkansas.
“And like we’ve all been saying, we’re just under coach Mac’s wings, listening to everything he has to say. We’re just trying to be one of the best defenses, but we’ve got to keep continuing to work. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The win over the Razorbacks was important to the defense, but the unit is certainly not resting on its laurels.
“One, it was big just because we came off a loss,” Jones noted. “That first week kind of hurt us, so it was just big to let the team get that feeling, know that things have changed. But also, two, we did put it behind us where we’re focused on this week and just looking to build on it,” he added.
As Ole Miss turns its attention toward Southeastern Louisiana, don’t expect the Rebels to stop trying to improve on the small details from Week 2 to Week 3. They want to be elite, so look for them to take advantage of every rep they get—regardless of the opponent.
Ole Miss (1-1, 1-0 SEC) hosts FCS Southeastern Louisiana (1-0) on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on the SEC Network alternate channel.