CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson linebacker Mike Jones Jr. has entered the NCAA transfer portal, becoming the first player to be leaving the Tigers' top 15 defense that was projected to have all 11 starters returning next season.

A team spokesman said Monday the athletic department's compliance office confirmed Jones had entered the NCAA transfer portal.

Jones, a 6-0, 220-pound redshirt sophomore from Nashville, Tennessee, started seven games this season in helping the defense lead the Atlantic Coast Conference and finish 15th nationally with 326 yards allowed per game.

“Clemson family has been the absolute best, I wouldn't trade these last 3 years for the world,” Jones posted on social media.

That group was expected to stay together into next season as several standouts like linebacker James Skalski, safety Nolan Turner and cornerback Derion Kendrick all chose to return for another college season.

Skalski and Turner took advantage of an allowable sixth season granted by the NCAA due to the coronavirus. Kendrick, a junior, was considered a first- or second-round NFL draft pick, but returned for another season.


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