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Cyrus Jones, The Return

Alabama’s senior cornerback Cyrus Jones looks to hold a primary role in the secondary, after not participating this spring because of a hip injury. Jones is coming off a stellar junior year, in which he finished eighth on the team in tackles (46). He totaled 13 pass breakups (team-high), three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in 2014. His efforts earned him second-team All-SEC honors by the Associated Press.

Former Alabama safety Landon Collins took Jones under his wing last season, and instilled confidence in the junior corner. The Crimson Tide’s matchups against Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State witnessed Jones play at full his potential. He recorded three tackles and a pass breakup against the Rebels, but his impact play came late in the second quarter. Jones stripped the ball away from Mississippi’s running back Jaylen Walton, and returned it for a 13-yard touchdown. The score gave Alabama a 14-3 lead at halftime.

Tennessee fans gave Alabama’s offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin the royal treatment. He was greeted with lustful boos, but Jones and Alabama’s defense had the last laugh. Jones collected three solo stops, a pass breakup and an interception. His takeaway occurred in the fourth quarter, as the Volunteers were making a comeback. Alabama didn’t cash in on the opportunity, but Jones’s play did help the team secure a 34-20 victory over Tennessee.

It always seems to go down to the wire when Alabama faces LSU. Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge, La.) was packed last season, but it was Alabama that emerged victorious. Cyrus Jones tallied one stop, but his coverage on LSU’s true freshman receiver Malachi Dupre was spot on. Dupre’s lone catch was a 14-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. Jones had perfect position, but Tigers’ quarterback Anthony Jennings made a better throw. It took overtime to decide a champion, and Alabama got it done by a score of 20-13.

C-Murder was unleashed inside Bryant-Denny Stadium when No.1 Mississippi State arrived in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 15, 2014. The conversation coming in was Dak Prescott versus Blake Sims, but Prescott was a non-factor for much of the contest. Alabama’s secondary forced three turnovers. Cyrus Jones accounted for four tackles, two pass breakups and an interception. Alabama won the game 25-20.

2015 will be Jones’s third season in the secondary. A Maryland native and former four-star prospect, Jones was a star athlete at Gilman High School. He was clocked at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and displayed a 37.5-inch vertical. Jones totaled 2,365 all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns as a running back and slot receiver. He put in five interceptions at cornerback.

It’s been two seasons since Jones transitioned from receiver to corner. He played well as a sophomore in 2013, but came into his own as a lockdown playmaker last season. Jones will work with Tony Brown, Marlon Humphrey, Bradley Sylve and others, but he will be viewed as the captain of Alabama’s secondary. A solid performance this fall could position him with a favorable draft stock heading into the National Football League.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 15 years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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