They sure love Michigan State All Americans in New York!

They sure love Michigan State All Americans in New York!

 

All-Americans.

Those are what the NFL’s New York Giants get when they draft a Michigan State University linebacker.

Saturday, Greg Jones added to an esteemed pair to earn All-American honors and wear the red, white and blue for the Giants by being selected in the sixth round of the 2011 Draft. In 1984, the Giants took former Flint Beecher star Carl Banks, who won two Super Bowls with the G-Men and was named to the Spartans’ All-Decade Team (1980s).

Eleven years earlier, in 1973, the Giants selected former Owosso Mr. Everything, the late Brad Van Pelt, with the 40th overall pick in the second round. Van Pelt was inducted to the MSU “Ring of Fame” at Spartan Stadium last fall.

While Banks and Van Pelt had star-studded careers with the Spartans as arguably two of the greatest linebackers in team history, only Jones, a two-time All-American and Butkus Award finalist, was able to anchor Michigan State’s defense en route to a Big Ten title.

Perhaps Jones would have went higher in the draft had he declared after his junior year when he was widely regarded as one of, if not the, best linebacker in the country. But his pride and desire to give the Green and White its first conference championship since 1990 took over, and he made the valiant decision to return to finish what he and his classmates started.

“No regrets,” said Jones in a recent interview with mlive.com. “We won a championship, and now I’m the position to go to the NFL and take a shot at my lifelong dream.”

Jones was considered, by some draft pundits, as a second- or third-round talent, but a senior year in which he didn’t quite live up to expectations likely caused him to fall significantly in the draft. Jones told the Detroit News he was “relieved” to finally be selected Saturday.

“It has been a stressful three days, but I feel both relieved and excited,” he said. “All of my hard work has paid off…”

Was Jones a steal in the draft? He was ranked the No. 6 ILB in the 2011 senior class, and New York Giants management couldn’t resist taking the speedy, hard-nosed linebacker who led the Spartans in tackles in each of his four years at MSU (first since Dan Bass 1976-79).

“Greg Jones equals production,” Giants director of scouting Marc Ross told the News. “To get a guy who is this productive… this late. … Jones is instinctive, plays hard and gets to the football. He’s just a football player.”

Ross wasn’t the only one blown away by Jones’ talent. Giants GM Jerry Reese also raved about the Cincinnati product’s numbers.

“This guy has tons of production,” said Reese. “This guy has sacks. He has tons of tackles. He’s played at a high level, very instinctive player.”

With any luck, Jones’ career in East Rutherford, NJ will be as good, or better, than Banks and Van Pelt’s. While the two elders were two of the Giants’ all-time premier players at the position, today’s NFL has changed, and a smaller, quicker Jones could find a great deal of success, just as his Spartan predecessors did.

At 6-foot, 242 pounds, and with a quick speed burst, Jones could greatly add to the Giants interior defense. He ran a 4.75 second 40-yard dash (combine stats), but more importantly, in terms of pass rushing and getting to the ball, Jones’ 2.69 20- and 1.68 10-yard dashes make him difficult to contain.

“He has the vision and instincts to play inside,” said Ross. “He plays best in there because he’s so slippery, plus he’s real quick laterally.”

And because of his fleet feet, Jones could see action on kick and punt returns, too.

“They really liked me and they feel I can have an impact right away, both on defense and special teams,” said Jones.