LEXINGTON, Ky. — Jordan Jones doesn’t get tired.
The Kentucky sophomore linebacker and second-leading tackler in the SEC can often be found wherever the ball is, as his instincts overcome the parameters of a single position.
Jones is averaging more than 10 tackles per game and his relentless style and energy can hardly be contained.
“He’s one of those guys,” coach Mark Stoops said. “He’s just wired very different.”
The coach had trouble explaining what Jones brings to the Wildcats defense.
“He just, there’s not, you know, he loves playing football,” Stoops said. “He loves practicing, he loves it all.”
Jones was a consensus 3-star recruit in Kentucky’s 2015 class. He went to Youngstown, Ohio’s Cardinal Mooney High School, the alma mater of his head coach. And while he wasn’t a top-flight recruit, Jones played in eight games as a true freshman and has been the Wildcats most dynamic defensive player a year later.
While Jones has lit up the stat book, opponents lit up the Wildcats defense in their first three games. Kentucky surrendered 40 or more points to Southern Miss, Florida and New Mexico State. After a 45-7 loss to Florida in Week 2, Jones let out a bit of his frustration:
“Sometimes when we’re down, a lot of people on our team just tend to quit and think it’s over, and I don’t think it’s over until it’s actually over,” Jones said after the game.
But despite the comment, Stoops defended him, saying he didn’t know what Jones’ intent was, but that the sophomore linebacker “backs it up.”
And he’s backed it up ever since.
Jones was second on the team with 8 tackles against Alabama. Before the game, he was pumping himself up outside the visitor’s locker room at Bryant-Denny Stadium. With headphones pulled over the top of a backward Chicago Blackhawks cap, Jones bobbed up and down next to nearby teammates as if rubbing his energy off on them.
That energy exists throughout each week of preparation.
“Man, there’s never a dull moment in the meeting room with Jordan,” redshirt freshman LB Eli Brown said. “He’s always up yelling, and coming from classes and straight to meetings, you need something like that, something to help you wake up.”
Brown was beaten out by Jones for the starting weak-side linebacker spot, but there were never any hard feelings, Brown said. He’s learned a lot from watching Jones on film or from the sidelines. As is often the case with Jones, it’s his energy that stands out.
“You’ll never see Jordan loaf,” Brown said. “He’s gonna fly to the ball. Me, coming from high school, I ain’t gonna lie, man, I was lazy. And now just watching Jordan, I want to get to the ball just like him.”
Jones will no doubt try to make every play as Kentucky welcomes Vanderbilt at 4 p.m. Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. He’ll be wearing No. 34, always darting to the ball, and of course, never getting tired.
“I just, it’s how I’ve always been,” he said.