Following Thursday morning’s UK Football practice, Mark Stoops announced the unfortunate news that Jordan Jones will miss the remainder of the spring with a shoulder injury. Kentucky’s senior-to-be linebacker suffered the injury during Tuesday’s practice and it will require surgery. At best, he will be able to resume football activities in August after a long recovery process. It’s a damaging blow to Stoops’ defense and to Jones’ offseason training for his final season in Lexington.
With Jones out the next several months, Stoops will turn to new faces to fill Jones’ starting weakside linebacker position, a spot he’s held and dominated the past two full seasons. One of the candidates to pick up his slack is true freshman DeAndre Square, who Stoops called one of the biggest surprises of the spring.
We’ve been very pleased with Deandre,” Stoops said Thursday. “He’s been doing good. I’ve been pleased with Deandre and his progress. I always get asked the question at some point during the spring, of a guy who jumps out at you and surprises us — I’d say he would definitely be that guy. He steps in when the bullets are flying and we’re playing full tempo, and he really makes some plays. You can tell he has a lot of natural instincts and I like the way he’s playing.”
Jamar “Boogie” Watson is another option to fill the void while the linebacking corps isn’t at full strength. Stoops said of his second-year linebacker, “We’ve always felt like he’s one of our best 11, whatever position, but he’s been doing some really good things at outside backer as well… but he can definitely play Will.”
Sophomore linebacker William Nalty also earned a mention from Stoops as a fill-in for Jones this spring.
But no matter who takes most of Jones’ reps in the months ahead, it’s a substantial hit to spring and summer training. Jones won’t be able to do anything until the weeks leading up to the first game of the season, which means he’ll be pretty far behind with little time to catch up. Luckily, Jones is a veteran player and one of the SEC’s best tacklers, so he could conceivably pick right up where he left off, should his rehabilitation go well. But there’s no pretending Thursday’s injury news isn’t significant as it will have a big impact on the linebacking corps heading into 2018.
And for what it’s worth, the injury is not to the same shoulder Jones injured last season.