The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 25, 2014

Jones the latest grad from PSU school of linemen

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Penn State defensive tackle DaQuan Jones soon will become the latest Larry Johnson-tutored lineman to reach the NFL.

Courtney Brown, Michael Haynes, Jimmy Kennedy, Tamba Hali Aaron Maybin and Jared Odrick all were first-team All-Americans and first-round draft picks since 2000.

And Anthony Adams and Devon Still were second-round selections, Jordan Hill a third-round choice and Jack Crawford a fifth-rounder while playing under Johnson.

He left the Nittany Lions’ program last month after 18 seasons to become an assistant head coach and defensive line coach at Ohio State after not being retained by new coach James Franklin.

“I love Coach Johnson,” said Jones, who went through individual workouts out for teams Monday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He’s definitely made me a better player.”

Jones, 6-foot-4, 322 pounds, is expected to be selected in the second or third round, according to CBSSports.com.

“It’s been pretty cool,” he said. “I’m really enjoying this. Something like this comes around once in a lifetime. You have to take advantage of it and excel in the opportunity.

“Being able to perform for the scouts and GMs pleases me. I’m just enjoying it.”

This past season, Jones was the fourth defensive tackle to be selected Penn State’s outstanding senior player since the award’s inception in 1978. He joined Lou Benfatti (1993), Brandon Noble (1996) and Still (2011), who plays for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jones, a first-team All-Big Ten Conference pick, led Penn State with 11.5 tackles for losses and finished fifth on the team in tackles with 56. He capped off his college career by playing in the Senior Bowl last month.

Jones believes he can flourish in multiple defensive systems in the NFL.

“I’d do anything really,” he said, when asked if he could play nose tackle. “It doesn’t matter what position I play. I played every position at Penn State pretty much and I’m comfortable with it. I have no issues. Again at Penn State, we did that. We played a 4-3, a 3-4. So it wouldn’t be a problem.”

Jones, who started 23 games the past two years, said he worked extra with Johnson on his hand placement and quickness last season.

“I spent a lot of time with coach Johnson and really tried to work on it when I could,” he said. “My stats got better and it paid off and helped me out.”

Jones trained with former Penn State teammates Silas Redd (USC transfer) and Khairi Fortt (California) in Pensacola, Fla., prior to coming to the combine. All three are among more than 330 players taking part here this week.

“It was pretty neat,” Jones said. “It was interesting. We call each other and hang out. It was good to catch up.”

Jones said he enjoys watching Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, a two-time Pro Bowl player.

“I love watching J.J. Watt and how he plays,” Jones said. I “remember watching him when he was at Wisconsin and now when he’s in the NFL. He’s a great player.”

The most Jones has ever weighed was 333 pounds prior to his junior year at Penn State.

Now at 322, he hopes to shed a few pounds before Penn State’s Pro Day April 8.

“Right now, I’m at 322 and I feel good,” he said. “I don’t feel heavy. If I stay there or go down, I will be OK.”

 

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