Can the biggest defensive lineman *in Auburn history* make an instant impact?
At 6-foot-6 and 328 pounds, Jayson Jones is quite possibly the biggest defender the Tigers have ever had. And the early returns on him are promising.
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DT Jayson Jones (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Marcus Harris knows the value of coming home after spending the early part of your college career far away. He also knows exactly what it takes to shine on the defensive line — he was a freshman star at Kansas in 2020 before becoming a starter for Auburn in 2021.
So Harris’ take about who comes through the transfer portal up front has a lot of weight to it. And what was his reaction when he found out that Auburn had landed Jayson Jones this past winter?
“When I first heard, I was like, ‘Oh my God, look who we got,’” Harris said.
Jones was an important pickup for Auburn this offseason. A former consensus 4-star recruit from Calera who flipped from Alabama on National Signing Day, Jones redshirted the COVID-impacted 2020 season at Oregon before breaking into the Ducks’ rotation in 2021 on a line that featured All-American edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Mario Cristobal’s highly publicized departure for Miami opened the door for Jones to get back closer to home. In December, he became the first of three Ducks from Alabama to transfer to Auburn. Jones, cornerback D.J. James and quarterback Robby Ashford all made it to the Plains for spring ball, while Bo Nix departed for Eugene.
And it didn’t take long for Jones to make his presence felt at Auburn.
“He’s a big boy,” edge rusher Eku Leota said with a laugh.
That’s an understatement.
Jones is listed at 6-foot-6 and 328 pounds. Not only is he the heaviest defender currently on the Tigers’ 2022 roster — he is the second-heaviest defender in program history and arguably the biggest defensive lineman Auburn has ever had.
Auburn has a database of football rosters online that goes all the way back to the 1951 season. The chart below is a scatter plot for the 50 biggest defensive players on those rosters, starting with those who weighed at least 270 pounds and, then, were at least 6-foot-1.
The only defensive lineman on this chart who weighed more than Jones’ 328 pounds is Tony Fair, who was listed at 330 pounds. Fair, however, was only 6-foot-1. Jones is 6-foot-6, which is tied for the tallest defensive lineman at Auburn with four others — including new JUCO transfer Jeffrey M’ba. (One could argue that the 2022 Tigers will have the two largest defensive linemen in program history, given Jones and M’ba’s height and weight.)
Derrick Brown was an All-American mountain of a man during his playing days at Auburn. Brown was listed at 6-foot-5 and 318 pounds — one inch and 10 pounds less than what Jones is currently bringing to the table. Jones, simply put, is an outlier among outliers.
“He’s an anchor,” Harris said.
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