Purdue is dangerously thin this year at linebacker. Counting a pair of walk-ons and an incoming true freshman there are only seven linebackers on the entire roster. Of those seven, only one has extensive experience (and he might be Purdue’s best player overall). That leaves a lot of questions, and hopefully today’s player can be an answer.
Cornel Jones - So.
Miami, FL (Miami Central HS)
6’2”, 240 pounds
2018 Projection: Starter at linebacker
We pretty much have no choice but have Jones be a major contributor this year. Markus Bailey is definitely starting for Purdue, then you have Tobias Larry, Jones, and Derrick Barnes as the only other linebackers with any experience. Larry, Jones, and Barnes avoided a redshirt last year as true freshmen to prepare for this. All three will need to be ready.
Jones is likely playing on the outside as Bailey shifts to the middle. Last season as a reserve and one special teams he played in eight games and had five tackles. Those numbers will explode exponentially this year if he becomes a starter.
Jones is a winner though. He comes from the powerhouse Miami Central program in Florida which won three state championships in his time there. As a senior he had 55 tackles and 8 sacks, so if he can find that same level (and playing for Miami Central means he was playing high level competition) it will greatly benefit us this year.
He is probably one of the most important players in terms of his need to step up.