LSU football: New Tigers linebacker insinuates that ACC wasn’t challenging enough

Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports /

LSU football landed one of the biggest transfers of the offseason when linebacker Mike Jones Jr decided to finish his college football career in Baton Rouge.

Jones, a Tennessee native who played high school football at IMG Academy in Florida, spent the first three years of his college career with the Clemson Tigers.

This past season, Jones was a starter for Clemson. When he entered the transfer portal in January, it was a bit of a surprise.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, however, had nothing but good things to say about Jones after the linebacker decided to leave.

From Greenville Online:

"“Mike is an awesome kid,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “… It was all good. I hate to see him go, but he did everything we asked of him. I’m proud of him and I know he’ll do great.”"

So if there were no hard feelings, and Jones was set to play an important role for Clemson, why did the talented linebacker decide to leave?

It sounds like it may have been because the ACC wasn’t challenging enough.

Mike Jones Jr came to LSU football to play in the SEC

Jones spoke to reporters this week and he explained that there were two key reasons why he decided to leave Clemson for LSU.

For one, he wanted to play in a new defensive system. Jones told reporters he wanted to be in the box more.

The other reason he transferred is because he wanted to challenge himself in the SEC West.

Here are his full comments, via Rivals:

"“I left Clemson to try and find a new role in a (new) system. I wanted to play more in the box and it’s been great here. Louisiana, I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said.“One of my big reasons for coming here is to challenge myself being in the SEC West. The SEC in general, you can’t really take anything for granted. It’s been a challenge. I’m glad to be here. I have great teammates, great coaching and I’m very appreciative for the opportunity.”"

There’s no doubt that the SEC West is the premier division in all of college football.

There are only five active college football head coaches with a national championship. Three of those coaches reside in the SEC West (LSU’s Ed Orgeron, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, and Alabama’s Nick Saban).

(Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and North Carolina’s Mack Brown are the other two coaches with a national championship.)

It’s hard to blame Jones for wanting to challenge himself in the SEC West. If he plans on having a long NFL career, there’s no better place to get prepared for it than the SEC West.

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Jones wants to play against the very best every Saturday. That’s a championship attitude that should serve LSU well this season.