There was quite a bit of rust to knock off for linebacker Jordan Jones after missing four straight games with a shoulder injury.
“He was a little rusty,” Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops said on Thursday of the All-Southeastern Conference defender’s performance at Mississippi State a week ago. “He knows that. He was a little sloppy, but the same instincts, the same quickness. But when you’re missing reps and missing time, I hope he’ll play a lot better this week.”
Jones felt a step slow in his return against the Bulldogs, but the junior started to look and feel like his former self against Tennessee on Saturday, leading Kentucky with 13 tackles, including two for loss and a sack in the victory.
“It felt good flying around, making tackles with my brothers out there; felt good getting that win,” said Jones, who admitted he’s still not 100 percent back.
That time away helped remind the junior how much he loves the game.
“Missing four games is tough,” he said. “When you’re taken away from the game, it’s a whole other feeling, so to finally be back and be healthy and be able to play with my teammates is just awesome.”
What did he learn from that time away?
“Football’s all I got,” he said. “I’m going to give the University of Kentucky coaches and teammates and everyone in the program everything I’ve got. … I just know this is my life.”
Jones, who has declined all interview requests since the TaxSlayer Bowl loss, also addressed the incident at Southern Miss to open the season when the junior linebacker was caught jawing with fans in the stands, making gestures and spitting in their direction.
“I never really got a chance to apologize either,” Jones said of his behavior at that game on Sept. 2. “I’m sorry for that. It’s not who I am. I just let the emotions get the best of me. First game, first road game of the season, I just let the emotions get the best of me for sure.”