LSU finalized a deal with Minnesota Vikings defensive backs coach Daronte Jones in the early afternoon on Tuesday, to make Jones the new defensive coordinator for the Tigers. He replaces Bo Pelini, who was fired after just one season back in Baton Rouge.
“I want to thank Coach Orgeron, athletic director Scott Woodward and the administration for this opportunity.” Jones said in an LSU press release. “I am blessed and thankful to be part of the LSU family, community, and the strong traditions of this program. Geaux Tigers.”
Many Tiger fans have been puzzled by the hire, not knowing Jones’s background or his experience. However, a press release from LSU Tigers Head Coach Ed Orgeron cleared the air about Jones’s qualifications. “We did a lot of research and talked to a lot of coaches including Dave Aranda.” said Orgeron. “And every person we spoke with raved about his knowledge and passion for the game.”
Prior to his tenure in Minnesota, Jones spent time with the Bengals, and Dolphins. He was also the defensive backs coach for the 2015 Wisconsin Badgers team that allowed just seven passing touchdowns, a Dave Aranda lead defense.
But from 2005 to 2009 Jones was the defensive coordinator for the Bowie State Bulldogs. A DII school in the CIAA conference located in Bowie, MD. Jones revamped Bowie and brought it back to a national power house, where his defenses finished in the top five in three seasons.
Jones has an eye for talent and knows how to squeeze every bit of potential out of an athlete. I spoke to one of his former players from Bowie State, Terence Peete Jr. A former DII Second Team All-American, and Coach Jones’s first ever All-American player.
So what do you remember about Coach Jones’s defensive scheme?
In his scheme, the safeties, are pretty much designed to make all of the plays. That’s how it was when he was coaching us. We’d roll down into the box in run support.
What type of front did you guys run at Bowie?
It was really a multiple defense, we called a 3-4, we ran a 4-3. We’d roll a linebacker up and make it look like a 5-2. We were also running a 46 Bear, but we also had a lot of consecutive 3-3-5.
So you came to Bowie State as a Defensive End/Outside Linebacker type player, but Coach Jones saw some potential in you as a Safety, tell me about that.
So, I always wanted to play in the defensive backfield, but my size kind of limited me to certain positions. I think in high school I was like six foot, two hundred and something pounds. So in high school, coaches are like ‘you’re a linebacker.’ Bowie State they recruited me as a D-End, Outside Linebacker, and during my redshirt year I talked to him (Jones) ‘I think I can make the jump, and I want to make the jump. I want to move from outside linebacker to safety.’ Coach Jones was like ‘are you serious?’ I was like ‘yeah.’ He told me he wanted to see how I did in 1-on-1s that day. I didn’t know too much, but I knew that if the guy (WR) couldn’t get off the line he couldn’t run his route. So I held the guy at the line of scrimmage for one play, the next time he ran his route and I actually covered him pretty well. From that day forward I was a Safety in the making.
I think you did pretty well after that, you told me you were his first ever DII All-American.
Yeah, Coach Jones isn’t your typical coach. He’s the one that wants you to call him if something else is going on outside of football. Like one time I sprained my meniscus, and had to get back and forth to the doctor. He was the one that would pick me up from my off campus apartment and make sure I got to my appointment.
So it sounds like he was more than just a coach for you?
Yeah, he was definitely like a father figure for me. He knew my father, I told him all about him. ‘I got this coach now that’s not letting up.’ My father told me. ‘That’s cool, if you want to get to the next level, you’re going to need that kind of push.’
So what do you mean by “not letting up” how competitive is Coach Jones?
I remember one time at practice, he said he didn’t want to give up no touchdowns. I don’t know what pissed him off, but we ended up giving up a touchdown or two at practice, and it was the second touchdown we gave up, and he said ‘Y’all meet me at the hill after practice.’ Maaaan! We just gave up two touchdowns at practice. But that was the standard he held us to. He wanted us to be the best. He came in my freshman year, and we weren’t the best. We gave up over a thousand yards rushing in our first three games, by the fifth game of the season at half time he talked to the defense and said if you guys don’t get together, I’m just going to throw the young guys in for the rest of the season, and he did. I think from that point on, we went from the CIAA worst defense to the best defense in the Nation in DII football.
With everything that Coach Jones taught you on the field, what is something that you carried off the field with you as well?
Integrity, Character, how football is a chance to open up your life. You go through so many obstacles that people don’t know your adversity. You go through that in a game, sudden change, turnover, adversity. You just have to get over it. You go through that in a game. The ones that are able to overcome it will be successful. I will say this though, on top of everything else, the one thing I got from him and I say it to this day. “I hate to lose, more than I love to win.” I am pretty sure that is something he is going to implement in that defense there (LSU).
Peete told me that he played with a confidence that was instilled in him from Coach Jones. From watching film study of former LSU safety LaRon Landry and never being satisfied on the field even after making a big play. Peete still carries that confidence with him to this day.