In his first opportunity on the field as a redshirt freshman, Mississippi State's Devin Jones spent most of his time on the edge of the defensive line. After playing in the middle of the defensive line last year at tackle in 2010, the rising junior is back at defensive end for the Bulldogs.
"It's going real good," said Jones. "Coach (Chris) Wilson has done a great job teaching me the techniques on the end. I am just giving it a shot and I know those are some big shoes to fill with (Pernell) McPhee gone. I am just going to work hard and see how it goes this spring."
In his first go-around at end, Jones actually led the Bulldogs in 2009 with 2.5 sacks and also had 3.5 tackles for loss. Last year at tackle, Jones collected 14 tackles, including one sack and three tackles for loss, and also blocked a kick.
Yes, Jones said, he is familiar with defensive end but his first experience at end didn't come under the direction of Wilson.
"I have but I haven't played there for Coach Wilson," said the 6-foot and 260-pound Jones. "But he thought I could do it so I am going to give Coach Wilson everything I got. There are some changes I have to get used to but those are being worked on this spring."
But Jones said there are some good advantages playing on the edge.
"Well, I don't have to worry about too many double teams," said Jones with a laugh. "Or try to go through two people. That helps."
Like his fellow teammates, Jones is currently benefiting in spring practice concerning their physical shape. After all, it was just a couple of months ago that MSU was preparing for the Gator Bowl and now they are right back on the practice fields.
"I say coming off the bowl game, I am in way better shape than I was last spring," said Jones, a former Desoto Central standout. "We didn't have much of a break in between and Coach (Matt) Balis did a wonderful job getting us all in shape during the offseason."
Last year the Bulldogs' exhibited a lot of talent and depth up front. Yes, McPhee will soon move on to the NFL and James Carmon has now shifted to the offensive line. But a lot of familiar faces are back up front.
"Oh man, Fletcher Cox, Josh Boyd, Sean Ferguson, Trevor Stigers, Shane McCardell and then of course, Kaleb Eulls is doing a good job so far," said Jones.
"All of them are working hard and we expect to do even more next year concerning the defensive line."
And after lining up beside Carmon last year, Jones now finds himself trying to get past Carmon and get into the offensive backfield. Jones noted of Carmon and another left tackle that were showing progress after two weeks of spring ball.
"Man, Blaine Clausell is doing good and so is James Carmon," said Jones. "I think both will be big assets in the future and man, those are some big boys to try to get around."
Of course, Jones has spent much of his college career holding his own against larger player due to his strength and quickness. Now eying his redshirt junior season, Jones knows he has to add another role to his resume - leadership.
"It seems just like yesterday that I got here," said Jones. "But now that I am older I know what to expect. I know I have to show all these younger guys how to go hard and to do all the right things and to do them all the time."