N.C. State safety Josh Jones has decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
Jones, who had an interception in the Wolfpack’s Independence Bowl win over Vanderbilt on Monday, made the announcement on his Twitter account on Tuesday.
“I came to N.C. State as a young boy and I’m leaving as a man,” Jones wrote. “My road along the way has not been a smooth one, it has been with a lot of learning experiences, but I wouldn’t redo any of it because it helped me grow into a man.”
Jones had a difficult sophomore season in 2015 but bounced back with a standout junior campaign. He led the Wolfpack with 109 tackles and three interceptions this season.
At 6-2 and 210 pounds, he has the size and speed to play in the NFL. His athletic ability will only help his draft stock at the NFL combine. His ability to bounce back from a subpar 2015 season will be viewed in a positive light, too.
Jones, who redshirted in 2013, switched from strong to free safety after his sophomore season. The move helped him make more plays in front of him. He went from 64 tackles in 2015 to 109 this season. Jones’s interception against Vanderbilt gave him eight for his career.
“We are proud of what Josh accomplished during his career and wish him great success as he pursues his dream of playing in the NFL,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said in a statement released by the school.
While Jones made his announcement, N.C. State is still waiting on junior defensive end Bradley Chubb. Chubb led the Wolfpack, and is among the national leaders, with 16 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss.
Chubb said before the bowl win he had submitted his name to the NFL draft advisory panel for feedback. Underclassmen have until Jan. 16 to make a decision.
Even if Chubb joins Jones in the draft, N.C. State is only losing two senior starters (nickel Dravious Wright and cornerback Jack Tocho) off of a defense that made significant improvement this season.
N.C. State has had mixed results recently with early entrants in the draft. Tight end David Grinnage left last season and went undrafted. Cornerback David Amerson came out as a junior and was a second-round pick in 2013, linebacker Terrell Manning was a fifth-round pick the year before.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio