COLUMBIA, Mo. — A season-ending injury derailed Jaylon Jones’ promising junior year with Ole Miss, but it didn’t break his spirit.
The former four star corner has returned back to the Rebels’ starting lineup this fall like he never left. Jones has 27 tackles, including three behind the line of scrimmage and he’s tied for first on the team with five pass breakups.
Through seven games Jones been playing like he hasn’t missed a beat, with little or no rust. He tallied five stops in the road loss at Missouri last Saturday. All of his stops were solo which means he’s comfortable sitting out on an island. That takes confidence and skill in order to be successful and Jones seems like he has both.
The Texas native is a versatile defender and was recruited as a safety out of high school also. Not to mention Jones is a special teams demon and has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in his career to go along with 94 total tackles. He along with senior corner Myles Hartsfield provide the Rebels with stability at the position.
Jones has the speed a big-play ability and Hartsfield is the ball hawk of the duo, with three career interceptions. The Rebels’ two-deep in the secondary is full of upperclassmen and the team will need the unit to hunker down as conference schedule tightens up.
Ole Miss plays Texas A&M, Auburn and LSU in three of the next four games. All three opponents have talented receivers on their roster that will challenge Jones and crew. If the Rebels want to make a run at bowl eligibility they’ll have to win at least one of those games.
However, that’s easier said than done. The Rebels are dead last in the SEC in pass defense, allowing over 300 yards a game through the air. The 14 pass touchdowns is the second-worst in the league. Besides New Mexico State there really are no guaranteed wins remaining on the schedule.
Jones and the rest of the secondary will need to step up the intensity and force more turnovers to stand a chance at reaching six wins. Still, there’s a lot of football to be played. Ole Miss’ defense needs Jones to continue playing at a high level and maybe the team can catch some breaks.