Each time he hurried Gators quarterback John Brantley, before each of his four sacks and as he forced a second-quarter fumble that led to a Georgia touchdown, he heard the former Gators coach’s recruiting pitch.
If you decide to sign with the Bulldogs rather than the Gators, we will beat you every year you are there, Jones recalled Meyer saying.
“I had that in the back of my mind all day today,” Jones said. “A lot of the guys on the team did as well. I’m just glad we came here and got the job done.”
Meyer has left Florida, replaced by first-year head coach Will Muschamp, but his presence was evident through the play of Georgia’s redshirt sophomore linebacker, who doubled his season sack total by bringing down Brantley four times.
Jones – who in high school chose to sign with Southern California then spent his freshman season with the Trojans – said he was eager to make an impression in his first Georgia-Florida game and was able to make an impact because of the time he spent in the film room and in part due to defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s preparations.
“I was watching film, and I caught a couple of their weaknesses,” Jones said. “And coach Grantham gave us their weaknesses, so I just made it my vision that I was going to use it against them. I knew what they were doing, so if it was going to help us make plays, I was going to do it.”
From his first days at Georgia, Jones has drawn praise from coaches, and with his performance on Saturday, has established himself among the program’s best and most promising at the position.
“He is probably the most complete linebacker we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Grantham said of Jones. “He’s a guy who works his tail off to be a more complete linebacker. And he’s still a young player. This is his first year in our system, and once he gets more acclimated with what we’re doing, I think the sky is the limit for how good he can be.”
There may be room left to improve, but for Saturday, Jones said he was pleased right where he was.
“It was my first Florida game, and I had four sacks,” Jones said. “I mean, could you ask for more?”