Jones to return to Michigan State

Updated: January 13, 2010, 2:00 PM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year decided he's not ready to leave just yet.

Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones will return for his senior season. Jones, who shared defensive player of the year honors with Penn State's Jared Odrick this year, made the announcement Wednesday in East Lansing.

The 6-foot-1, 228-pound Jones assessed his NFL draft stock, and Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio spoke with four NFL general managers about the linebacker. Dantonio said there's no doubt Jones can compete at the next level, but the pull wasn't strong enough to pull the co-captain away from Michigan State.

"The news wasn't exactly terrible," Jones told ESPN.com of his discussions with NFL personnel. "It just wasn't good enough. It wasn't enough for me to leave."

Jones has led Michigan State in tackling in each of his three seasons as a Spartan. He led the Big Ten with 154 tackles and ranked third nationally in tackles average with 11.6 per game. Jones also led Michigan State in both tackles for loss (14) and sacks (nine).

The team's disappointing 6-7 season played a role in Jones' decision, and he wants to be better against the pass in 2010.

"I still feel like there's always a need for improvement," Jones said. "I never feel like I've reached that [peak]. Even with tackling, I feel like I could be more effective. This offseason's going to be very, very important."

Michigan State backslid on defense this fall and will build around Jones in 2010.

"He's extremely goal-oriented as a person," Dantonio said. "His goals are not about individual goals. It's about team goals, and we can reach many of our goals with Greg Jones being our nucleus again."

Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at espnritt@gmail.com.