Nov. 8, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State senior linebacker Greg Jones, who ranks fifth in the Big Ten in tackles (8.7 per game), has been named one of 16 semifinalists for the Bednarik Award, presented annually since 1995 to the college defensive player of the year. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Jones leads the 10th-ranked Spartans (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) in tackles (87), tackles for loss (8 for 18), forced fumbles (3), quarterback hurries (5) and production points (177). He anchors a Spartan defensive unit that ranks third in the Big Ten and No. 24 in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing defense, allowing 119.0 yards per game.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, native earned Midseason First-Team All-America honors from SI.com, CBSSports.com, Phil Steele, CollegeFootballNews.com, Rivals.com, Heisman Pundit and BleacherReport.com. In addition, Jones has been selected as one of 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award (top collegiate linebacker), one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award (college lineman of the year) and one of 23 quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy (Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year).
A model of consistency, he has led the team in tackles in 30 of the last 36 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).
In MSU's 31-8 win over Minnesota, he recorded nine tackles, including 2.5 for losses (3 yards), as the Spartans limited the Golden Gophers to 267 total yards. The second-year captain also made nine stops each in back-to-back road games against Northwestern and Iowa.
Jones, who posted a season-high 14 stops in a 26-6 Homecoming victory over Illinois, was 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.
Jones tallied nine tackles in MSU's 34-31 overtime victory over Notre Dame, including a 6-yard sack. He recorded 11 tackles and forced a fumble in MSU's 30-17 victory over Florida Atlantic at Ford Field.
Jones has started 43 of 49 career games, including 37 consecutive starting assignments (tied for team high with linebacker Eric Gordon). He has 446 career tackles, including 44.5 for losses (158 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) and tackles for loss (sixth). He also ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in tackles for loss (second), total tackles (third) and sacks (sixth).
The list of Bednarik Award semifinalists includes four other Big Ten players: Ohio State's Chimdi Chekwa, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Wisconsin's J.J. Watt.
The award is named in honor of College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik, a four-time letterman (1945-48) and two-time All-American (1947-48) for Coach George Munger at Pennsylvania. Despite playing in an era when the rules allowed free substitution, the 6-3, 220-pound Bednarik earned the nickname "Concrete Charlie" as a 60-minute player, seeing action at both center and linebacker. In 1948, he became the first offensive lineman to be presented the Maxwell Award as the nation's top collegiate player.
The Bethlehem, Pa., native began his collegiate career as a 20-year-old after returning from World War II. He flew 30 combat missions over Germany, earning the Air Medal as a B-24 waist gunner with the Army Air Corps.
Bednarik was selected first overall in the 1949 National Football League Draft as a bonus pick by the Philadelphia Eagles. He missed just three games during his 14-year pro career. Bednarik earned All-NFL honors nine times and played in eight Pro Bowls while helping the Eagles win two NFL Championships (1949 and 1960). In 1969, he was named the NFL's "Greatest Center of All-Time" by a panel of sportswriters, coaches and Hall of Famers.
The Bednarik Award is selected by a panel comprised of Maxwell Football Club members, college head football coaches, sports information directors and national media. Three finalists will be released on Nov. 22, with the winner announced Dec. 9 on The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show. Formal presentation of the Bednarik Award will be made March 4, 2011, at the Maxwell Football Club's Awards Dinner in Atlantic City, N.J.