LSU fans watching the Senior Bowl on Saturday may have a déjà vu experience.
Walking onto the field for the South team defense will be an LSU linebacker wearing a No. 0 jersey, but it won’t be Deion Jones who did so last season. Following in his former teammate’s footsteps wearing that same jersey will be Duke Riley, who decided to claim the jersey as an LSU tradition, according to The Advocate’s Ross Dellinger. Jones was the first Senior Bowl player to wear the number when he did so last year.
“I’m talking to [LSU head trainer Jack Marucci] about Duke and he says, ‘Duke wants to wear zero,'” Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage told Dellinger. “I’m like, ‘OK, I guess we’ll reserve that for the LSU linebacker.'”
It’s fitting that Riley will be following in Jones’ footsteps, given the similarities between the two. After three years playing primarily special teams, Riley stepped into Jones’ role as the weakside linebacker in LSU’s defense and immediately became the Tigers’ leading tackler as Jones was a season ago.
“A year ago, after seeing Deion, I knew I had big shoes to fill so I always saw myself following the same footsteps of him,” Riley told Dellinger. “I saw it. Probably one of the reasons why I’m here.”
Jones had his fair share of success in his rookie season, leading the Super-Bowl-bound Atlanta Falcons with 108 tackles, claiming a stake for the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year.