Michigan State Football: Naquan Jones needs to be ‘that dude’ in 2020

Naquan Jones, Michigan State football Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Naquan Jones, Michigan State football Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

With Raequan Williams and Mike Panasiuk gone from the interior, Michigan State football will need Naquan Jones to be “that dude” in 2020.

For years, Naquan Jones has been waiting for his shot. He came in with a lauded 2016 recruiting class, especially on the defensive line, but redshirted in 2016 while the rest of his fellow freshmen at the time played extensively.

In 2017, Jones got his first shot, playing in 10 games and recording 13 total tackles as well as five for loss. In 2018, he had a breakout of sorts, recording a total of 25 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack. He became a crucial member of a loaded defensive line but took a slight step back in 2019 with 15 tackles and a sack.

Over his career, though, he has shown flashes of absolute dominance and has even turned heads of NFL scouts. He has the size and the strength to be a problem for opposing lines, but is he ready to be “that dude” for Michigan State?

With Raequan Williams and Mike Panasiuk both graduating and moving on to the professional ranks and Kenny Willekes joining the departures, the defensive line’s depth is thin. Having Jacub Panasiuk step up as a returning starter at end is important, sure, but Jones must be that dominant force in the middle.

Jones has 53 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and two sacks throughout his MSU career, but if the Spartans are going to avoid a massive drop-off up front, he needs to approach those numbers (or at least that pace) in 2020.

The defensive line is a massive concern heading into the season and the idea of a 3-4 front has been floated around, so he’ll be all that much more important.

Jones is an incredibly important piece to Michigan State’s defensive puzzle.

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