Jones Named Butkus Award Semifinalist
Oct. 22, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State senior Greg Jones, who leads the eighth-ranked Spartans in tackles (60), forced fumbles (3), quarterback hurries (5) and production points (147), has been selected as one of 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, presented annually since 1985 to the nation's top collegiate linebacker. Jones also is listed among the team leaders in tackles for loss (second with 5 for 15 yards) and interceptions (third with 2). He ranks among the Big Ten leaders in forced fumbles (tied for first) and tackles (fifth at 8.6 per game).
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Jones has been selected Midseason First-Team All-America by SI.com, Phil Steele, CollegeFootballNews.com, Rivals.com and Heisman Pundit. In addition, he has been named one of 23 quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy (Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year). Jones is listed as the nation's No. 1 candidate to win both the Butkus and Nagurski (top defensive player) Awards, according to Rivals.com's Olin Buchanan (Awards Watch posted Oct. 20).
A model of consistency, he has led the team in tackles in 27 of the last 33 games. Jones is attempting to become only the second player in MSU history to lead the Spartans in tackles for four straight seasons (linebacker Dan Bass, 1976-79).
"Greg Jones has had a remarkable career, and he's certainly deserving of this honor," MSU linebackers coach Mike Tressel said. "Over the last three seasons, Greg has consistently played at a high level, and over the last two years, he has really emerged as a great team leader. Greg was forced into a leadership position early in his career and now, he's really comfortable in that role. As he's matured as a player, Greg also has developed the unique ability to help the players around him play at a higher level. He brings great energy and effort every time he steps onto the field.
"Greg has always been a great tackler, but this season, he's really become a factor in creating turnovers. Heading into his senior year, he really wanted to focus on taking advantage of those opportunities to make interceptions and force fumbles."
Jones, who posted a season-high 14 stops in a 26-6 Homecoming victory over Illinois, has been named National Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation as well as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He recorded double-figure tackles for the second time this season and for the 20th time his career. Jones also was credited with a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry. Michigan State limited the Illini to 114 rushing yards - 103 yards below its season average. Trailing 6-3 at halftime, the Spartan defense shut out the Illini in the second half while forcing three turnovers (four takeaways in the game). It marked the first time since a 31-3 win over Indiana on Oct. 4, 2003, that MSU didn't allow a touchdown in a Big Ten game.
Jones posted five tackles in MSU's 34-17 victory at No. 18 Michigan, as the Spartan defense held the Wolverines to season lows in points (17), rushing yards (162) and total yards (377).
He recorded eight tackles, including a season-best three for losses, in No. 24 MSU's 34-24 victory over No. 11 Wisconsin. The Spartan defense held Wisconsin to 165 rushing yards - nearly 93 yards below its season average. The Badgers entered the game ranked second in the Big Ten and No. 10 in the NCAA FBS in rushing, averaging 257.5 yards per game.
Jones, who recorded two interceptions, four tackles and forced a fumble in MSU's 45-7 victory over Northern Colorado, was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week. Jones recorded the first two interceptions of his career against the Bears, with both leading to MSU scores. His 34-yard return in the first quarter set up Edwin Baker's 5-yard TD run, while his second-quarter pick set up Le'Veon Bell's second TD run.
He tallied nine tackles in MSU's 34-31 overtime victory over Notre Dame, including a 6-yard sack. Jones recorded 11 tackles and forced a fumble in MSU's 30-17 victory over Florida Atlantic at Ford Field.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, native has started 40 of 46 career games, including 34 consecutive starting assignments (tied for team high with linebacker Eric Gordon). He has 419 career tackles, including 41.5 for losses (155 yards) and 16.5 sacks (93 yards). Jones ranks among the FBS active leaders in total tackles (second), tackles per game (sixth at 9.1), tackles for loss (sixth) and sacks (tied for 14th). Jones ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in tackles for loss (third), total tackles (fourth) and sacks (sixth).
Jones is attempting to become the ninth Big Ten linebacker and only the second Spartan to win the Butkus Award, joining Percy Snow who was presented the trophy in 1989.
The award is named in honor of College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, a three-time letterman (1962-64) and two-time All-American (1963-64) for Coach Pete Elliott at Illinois. Butkus still ranks No. 8 on the Illini's all-time list with 374 career tackles, averaging 14.4 tackles in 26 career games. As a junior in 1963, he was presented the Silver Football Award as the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player, leading the Illini to an 8-1-1 record, including a 17-7 victory over Washington in the 1964 Rose Bowl. As a senior in 1964, Butkus was selected National Player of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and finished third in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy.
Butkus was selected third overall by the Chicago Bears in the 1965 National Football League Draft. He played nine seasons in the pros, recording 22 career interceptions and recovering 27 fumbles. Butkus made eight-straight appearances in the Pro Bowl and earned All-NFL honors six times. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons, in 1969-70. Butkus was selected to the NFL's All-Decade Teams in the 1960s and 1970s, NFL's 75th Anniversary Team and the All-Time NFL Team, announced in 2000.
The Butkus Award is selected by a 51-person panel comprised of scouts, coaches and journalists. Finalists will be announced on Nov. 23, with the winner notified by Dec. 8.
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