Publisher’s Notes: Every weekday until the LSU football team reports for Fall Camp on Sunday, Aug. 4, TSD will unveil another player in our top 50 Tigers for the 2013 season. We arrived at this list by combining individual rankings from TSD’s Austin Cooper, Ben Love and Hunter Paniagua. For example, a player who received a No. 1 vote got 50 points, a No. 2 vote got 49 points, and so on. Every player who received votes had his points totaled across all three individual lists, and the result was our final TSD ranking. All players, including incoming signees, were eligible for selection.
No. 18 – OLB Tahj Jones
In a stacked LSU linebacking corps for 2013, redshirt senior Tahj Jones rates as the Tigers’ third best position player according to TSD’s top 50 countdown. Linebackers already named include Deion Jones (No. 23), D.J. Welter (No. 27), Lamar Louis (No. 29) and Kendell Beckwith (No. 47), assuming Beckwith stays on the second level. Heading into this fall, Tahj Jones is basically hitting the reset button from this time a year ago, when Jones was slated to start at strongside linebacker prior to Fall Camp, when it was learned Jones would sit out the regular season due to academic ineligibility.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Sulphur native did make it back for the Chick-fil-A, and John Chavis thought enough of the shape he was in to give Jones the start. Jones finished with four tackles and one sack against Clemson. In 29 career games at LSU, Jones has 37 tackles, one interception and a forced fumble to his name. Look for him to be the quickest starting linebacker in 2013, playing next to fellow senior Lamin Barrow and either D.J. Welter or Kwon Alexander.
By The Numbers
Jones’ highest ranking: 12th
Jones’ lowest ranking: 29th
Why this ranking is too high
Like Welter before him, it’s possible Jones could be a bit rusty, having played in only one of 13 games in 2012 and none against SEC opposition. Plus, although Jones has played well in spurts, the sample size and book on him is still awfully small. Many of the 29 games in which Jones has appeared saw him strictly on special teams detail. He did emerge late in the 2011 season defensively, but after missing last fall it’s back to the drawing board a bit for Jones, who is still a tad undersized at 205 pounds.
Why this ranking is too low
He runs neck and neck with Deion Jones for the title of fastest linebacker on LSU’s team. Tahj Jones relies on his foot-speed, and it’s a quality that contributes well toward Chavis’ philosophy of attacking the run by numbers and funneling ball-carriers to the middle by quickness on the perimeter. It should also say quite a bit that after 12 games out, Chavis immediately turned to Jones as a starter in LSU’s bowl game. With only one more year of eligibility remaining, Chavis is ready to set this speedster free in 2013.
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