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Syracuse Football’s Most Important Players: #3 Mikel Jones

The top three are upon us. In our countdown of the most important players for Syracuse football in 2022, we’ve seen offensive skill position players, defensive backs, offensive linemen, and a super utility player. But, let’s go back to the defensive side of the ball, and the guy who is probably the leader of the defense, Mikel Jones.

Jones decided to return to the Orange for his fourth season, and third under Tony White, and he’s been an ironman for SU. He’s played in all 35 games Syracuse has played in his three years, and his numbers have taken a leap each season, culminating in a fantastic 2021 season.

Why Syracuse Needs Him

Just by the numbers, Jones tackling totals have increased from 38 in 2019 to 69 in 2020, and then a massive bump to 110 in 2021. Jones’ numbers in the passing game in 2021 could not replicate his unbelievable ability to be at the right place at the right time in 2020 when he had four interceptions and five passes defended. 

He was a turnover machine in 2020, on top of his dominance against the pass, Jones forced three fumbles and recovered two more. In 2021, he had just one fumble recovery and no forced fumbles, on top of no interceptions and no passes defended. But, what he lacked for defending the pass he made up for defending the run and rushing the passer.

After making just two tackles for loss in each of his first two seasons, Jones totaled seven and a half TFLs in 2021 and had two sacks after only one and a half in the two seasons prior. This shows the impact Jones had in the running game, where SU clearly needs more help than defending the pass.

Best Case Scenario

Once again in 2022, the linebackers helping out the defensive line will be paramount to the amount of success Syracuse’s run defense will have. As highlighted in our ninth most important player of this countdown, Jones and Marlowe Wax are going to be tasked with working together a lot with the defensive tackles and ends on filling gaps and stopping the run.

The linebackers on the roster have a lot of experience, while the defensive line does not, which makes Jones, as the leader of the defense right in the middle of it, all the more important. With stalwarts in Garrett Williams and Duce Chestnut handling the outside along with a plethora of rotation players mixing in the secondary, that frees up Jones to both roam the middle of the field on passing downs and occasionally rush the passer.


This freedom will be helpful for Syracuse’s defense and allow the third most important player on the roster to fill any role required of him. As a member of the First Team All-ACC in 2021, along with other postseason accolades, Jones has a chance to potentially set himself up to get drafted in 2023 with a strong season for Syracuse in 2022.

Worst Case Scenario

Jones is supremely important if Syracuse wants to be better than it was in 2021, and he’ll have to be versatile and malleable if the Orange are to succeed on defense. Jones may be number three on this list, but he’s a clear number one on defense, and SU will be successful because of him or fail trying.

Mikel Jones moves up one spot from 2021 to climb into the top three, but the top two starts tomorrow with the second most important Syracuse player this season.

Sunday, August 21st – #10 Courtney Jackson

Monday, August 22nd – #9 Marlowe Wax

Tuesday, August 23rd – #8 Chris Elmore

Wednesday, August 24th – #7 Duce Chestnut

Thursday, August 25th – #6 Matthew Bergeron

Friday, August 26th – #5 Damien Alford

Saturday, August 27th – #4 Garrett Williams

Sunday, August 28th – #3 Mikel Jones

Monday, August 29th – #2 ??

Tuesday, August 30th – #1 ??

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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