STARKVILLE – It would be hard for anyone to question the patience of Kendell Jones.
Jones waited his turn at defensive tackle for four years at Mississippi State with the Bulldogs producing a ton of NFL talent during that span.
MSU lost its top five players at the position at the end of last season leaving the door wide open for Jones to finally get his shot to start. But a pectoral injury in the spring and a subsequent surgery soon made attaining that goal much more difficult.
“It was frustrating,” Jones said. “I just had to fight to get through the adversity. And coming back was tough but I hung in there and fought my way through.”
From 2016-18, Jones had only appeared in six games and made three tackles. The fall, however, the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder has seen action in eight contests and made a career-high three tackles and 0.5 tackle for loss last week against Abilene Christian.
“It feels great to be part of the team,” Jones said. “I’m getting a lot more playing time than I did last year and can contribute to the team.”
Jones is one of two senior defensive tackles on MSU’s roster along with Lee Autry. Those two have tried to bring along and lead a position group that features five freshmen.
“Lee is more of the vocal guy and I’m more of a lead by example type of guy,” Jones said.
On Thursday, Jones will run across Scott Field for the final time as the Bulldogs honor him and 25 other seniors. It is still hard for the former three-star prospect to fathom that his time in Starkville is drawing to a close.
“It’s surreal that this is my last game,” Jones said. “I think it’s really going to hit me after the Egg Bowl. I’ve just got to make the best of it.”
Although Jones has not seen the field as much as he would have liked, the idea of transferring elsewhere never entered his mind.
“I just felt at home here, I didn’t want to leave,” Jones said. “It just felt like a family here so I had to stay.”
Jones will graduate on Dec. 13 with a degree in human development and family science with a concentration in youth development and plans to return home to Pinson, Alabama to pursue a coaching career at the high school level.