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4 DAYS TO 2021 KICKOFF: Wayne Jones

In which BracketCat counts down the fourth day until the 2021 kickoff with a profile of Kansas State linebacker Wayne Jones.

#4 Wayne Jones
Defensive back Wayne Jones (4) battled back from a nasty concussion to get back on the field in 2020, then transitioned to a hybrid weakside linebacker/nickel back role during the offseason.
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

NOTE: Kansas State has elected to advance players’ classification even though the 2020 season did not affect eligibility. Those who wish to take advantage of this extra year will be listed as a (“super”) senior again after their original eligibility would have been exhausted.

Goal No. 4: IMPROVE. Every day... as a player, person and student.

#4 Wayne Jones

Redshirt Junior | 6-0 | 210 lbs. | Owasso, Oklahoma
Wayne Jones
Wayne Jones
Courtesy Kansas State Athletics
  • Position: Linebacker/Nickelback
  • Previous College: None
  • Projection: Second-String (LB)/Starter (NB)
  • Status: On Scholarship

Harold Wayne Jones III (b. May 25, 2000) is a versatile, athletic linebacker/defensive back who graduated high school early to enroll at KSU and is majoring in communication studies.

Jones had two solo tackles and returned an interception of former quarterback Hunter Hall for 19 yards as a starter for the Purple team in the 2018 spring game.

He then played in two games in 2018, enough to preserve his redshirt, and saw time against both Texas Tech and Iowa State, recording a tackle on kickoff coverage in the latter game.

Jones started all 13 games in 2019 at strong safety under the new coaching staff, finishing fourth on the team with 57 tackles to go along with half a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

He carded a career-high 11 stops against TCU, while he had his first career pass breakup at Texas Tech, also had seven tackles against both Oklahoma State and West Virginia, and made six stops at both Mississippi State and Texas Tech.

Jones played in all 10 games in 2020, starting at both safety (Arkansas State) and nickelback (Iowa State). He totaled 24 tackles, half a tackle for loss and a pass breakup, but consistency was an issue as he battled back from a nasty concussion in the season opener.

Jones also recovered a pair of fumbles — one against Arkansas State and the other at Baylor — as he tied for third in the Big 12 Conference and 12th in the nation in recoveries.

He had a season-high seven tackles against Texas, bettering his previous mark of six against both Arkansas State and Iowa State, and also broke up a pass against the Longhorns.

Jones enters 2021 battling with converted safety Ryan Henington for the right to be the “starting” weakside linebacker when K-State lines up in its “big” defensive package, which is basically a 4-3. His speed and experience at safety should be an asset to him in this role.

Jones prepped under head coach Bill Blankenship at Owasso High School, where he was rated the 12th-best prospect in the state of Oklahoma for the Class of 2018 by 247Sports, while he was ranked No. 17 by ESPN and No. 19 by Rivals.

He helped to lead the Rams to a 2017 Oklahoma Class 6A-I State Championship as he was named a second team all-state performer by The Oklahoman and The Tulsa World.

Jones was rated No. 10 on The Oklahoman’s Super 30 rankings prior to the season and viewed as the third-best safety in Oklahoma, according to The World’s preseason rankings.

He also participated in track and wrestling in high school.

Jones picked the Wildcats over offers from Arkansas State, Illinois, Louisville, Memphis, Michigan State, Nevada, New Mexico, North Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma State, Purdue, SMU and UTSA. He also drew Power 5 interest from Arizona State, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.