By BEN JOHNSON
His numbers were impossible to ignore in 2012. He led the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in tackles per game (11), recorded 11 tackles for loss, notched two sacks and even picked off a pass.
Langston Jones couldn’t have hoped for a better junior season at Northeastern State. But now he’s out post even better marks as a senior in 2013.
“I’m not just going to sit on that,” said Jones, a 6-foot, 205-pound linebacker from Callisburg High School in Texas.
“We have to get better as a team. That’s in the past, and we’re looking forward to Pitt State now, and we want to come ready to play on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.”
When the RiverHawks open this year’s slate in southeast Kansas on Saturday night, Jones will start as NSU’s hawk linebacker alongside Jack Gray and Colten Nevel. Jones will also kick start his final collegiate season as a Second Team Preseason All-American, according to USA College Football.
But Jones isn’t one to get caught up in hype or personal accolades.
“It’s just like any other player; you want to be better the next year,” said Jones, who also the Jim Thorpe Award as one of the state’s best college football players in 2012.
“As a team, we want to be better this year.”
Jones’ comments on the RiverHawks’ success coincides with how NSU head coach Kenny Evans views Jones.
“More than anything else, I think he’d give up all the accolades for a championship football team,” Evans said of Jones. “Last year when things were tough against ranked teams, he helped us stay together and pull out some wins in the end.”
Through three season with the RiverHawks, Jones has racked up 246 career tackles. It all started during his freshman campaign, when he logged 43 after being penciled into the starting lineup for NSU’s final four games.
“As a true freshman, we had an injury and he stepped in and took full advantage,” Evans said of Jones. “Donald Dangerfield got hurt and Langston never gave it back. Dangerfield had to learn a new position.”
It’s certainly worked out for NSU.
In 2013, Jones will be one of eight seniors in NSU’s starting lineup on defense. It’s a unit primed to improve on its 31.4 points-allowed-per-game average, but it all starts up along the defensive line, Jones said.
“It’s just like a running back and an offensive line, you have to be strong up front,” said Jones, whose team went 4-6 in 2012. “With (Faafetai Te’o) and Kenny (Garrett) coming back, it could lead to good things. We all just had to learn our assignments, because last year we gave up too many big plays. But it all starts up front, really.”