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Countdown to Virginia Football: #54 Cory Jones

The Washington, D.C. native could be a surprise starter at OLB.

  • Class: Sophomore
  • Position: OLB
  • Height: 6’5”
  • Weight: 215

Headed into the 2016 season, the Virginia defense finds itself in the middle of a scheme change. Gone is the attacking 4-3 defense of Jon Tenuta and Mike London. In its place is a 3-4 defense run by new Cavalier head coach Bronco Mendenhall. For some Cavalier defenders, the shift brings with it a position change. For other defenders, the shift brings with it more position clarity. Cory Jones, a sophomore from Washington, DC, fits into the second group.

Jones has yet to see the field as a Cavalier, but that should change quickly this fall. He arrived in Charlottesville in 2014 as an DE/OLB hybrid. He’d only played one year of football at Archbishop Carroll High School in the District, and he was a late addition to the 2014 recruiting class. After redshirting in 2014, Jones didn’t see any action in 2015.

Mendenhall’s 3-4 scheme requires defensive ends to be relatively big. So Jones, who’s currently listed at 215 pounds, fits better as an outside linebacker. While he was a bit of a ‘tweener in Tenuta’s scheme, he’s a much clearer fit in Mendenhall’s defense. And that clarity seems to have helped. After not leaving the bench in 2015, Jones practiced at OLB in the spring. And by some accounts, he’s carved himself a place on the first team defense.

The competition at outside linebacker should be interesting to watch this August. Currently, almost all of Virginia’s most-seasoned linebackers (guys like Micah Kiser and Zach Bradshaw) are slotted inside. Malcolm Cook is the only upperclassmen slotted outside, and he’s a converted safety. Jones will have a great shot to establish himself as a rotational player...and potentially a full-time starter. In the video below, he shows great closing ability as an edge rusher. Look for him to be used similarly this fall.