Greg Jones made a promise to his mother.
That he would get a college degree. The promise weighed heavily on Jones’ decision to return for his senior season.
Jones announced Wednesday that he will not enter the NFL Draft. He had until Friday to make the decision.
“When you talk about the relationship with my mom, we talk a lot about sports. But ever since I was younger, she was always more excited when I did good in class,” Jones said. “I do want to keep that promise to her. She obviously means a lot to me and getting closer to that degree means a lot.”
Jones said he consulted as many people as he could — including ex-players, his coaches and his family — to come to his decision.
“I kind of just wanted to make an educated decision about some things,” he said.
Jones was a consensus 2009 First-Team All-American and also was named the College Football Performance Awards’ Linebacker of the Year.
Head coach Mark Dantonio was excited that his star player and team captain was returning.
“Greg making this announcement is a huge thing for our football program,” Dantonio said. “To have (Jones) back … provides a nucleus for our entire program defensively. Just as importantly, having a team captain coming back sends a message to a lot of people. I’ve always talked about discipline and maturity as a person and Greg shows a great deal of that in doing this. He shows a very unselfish attitude, which I think sends a message across the entire country.”
The media’s choice for 2009 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Jones’ 154 tackles led the conference and ranked third nationally. But his small size has been one of the few question marks NFL scouts have in regards to selecting Jones. Jones, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 228 pounds, said he’s trying to gain weight.
Jones has led MSU in tackles all three seasons as a Spartan, improving his total each year. As a sophomore in 2008, he finished with 127 tackles and was named First-Team All-Big Ten by conference coaches, becoming the first Spartan linebacker to earn the honor since 2001. As a freshman, Jones started all 13 games, finishing with 78 tackles to earn Freshman All-American accolades from numerous publications.
Entering his senior season Jones has 359 career tackles, eighth most in program history and 182 behind Dan Bass’s record of 541.
With so many accolades, there’s not much more Jones can accomplish at MSU individually.
“I really feel like, in the past, I feel like I wasn’t the factor I wanted to in the passing game,” he said.
But Jones had one more goal.
“I want to try to make my teammates better as much as I can,” he said.