Kansas State now is up to 10 players in the NCAA’s transfer portal, with defensive back Will Jones II entering his name Wednesday. A K-State spokesman confirmed to The Mercury via text Wednesday afternoon that Jones was transferring.
With Jones’ addition Wednesday, the Wildcats have had 10 players transfer since August.
Jones is the fourth defensive back in the transfer group, joining Walter Neil Jr., Jonathan Alexander and Tyrone Lewis. Others include defensive linemen Derick Newton, Ronald Triplette and Matthew Pola-Mao, wide receiver Joshua Youngblood, running back Thomas Grayson and linebacker Demarrquese Hayes.
A redshirt freshman, Jones had appeared in all seven games K-State has played this fall, starting at nickelback against Arkansas State and West Virginia. Jones collected 15 tackles (12 solo, three assisted). He had two tackles for loss to go along with an interception and a blocked punt.
The interception and blocked punt came in the same game: the opener versus Arkansas State. He became the first Wildcat to achieve that feat in a game since 2008.
Fresh off that performance and heading into K-State’s game at Oklahoma, Jones told reporters he wanted to bring “a lot of speed and explosive plays” to the defense.
“I’m trying to be out there, make the best of it and the most of all the opportunities,” he said, “and just put the team in a good position to be successful.”
Other than the Arkansas State contest, Jones’ best outing as a Wildcat came in a road win at TCU last month, when he registered five tackles.
Jones participated in four games in 2019, preserving his redshirt as he mainly played as a reserve defensive back and on special teams. He notched one tackle last season, which came in the opener versus Bowling Green.
Jones ranked among K-State’s most highly regarded 2019 signees. A late flip from Cal, his rating of 5.6 tied for second among the Wildcats’ 2019 class in Rivals’ rankings, putting him alongside receiver Keenan Garber and quarterback Chris Herron and trailing only defensive lineman Matthew Pola-Mao’s 5.7.
Like Rivals, 247Sports ranked Jones as a three-star prospect. He was the No. 93 overall player in Texas in the 2019 cycle according to the 247Sports Composite.
A native of Mansfield, Texas, Jones played at Summit High.
He was a first-team all-district selection as a junior and senior. Jones finished his high school career with 48 tackles, eight interceptions and 15 passes defended. Six of his eight interceptions came during his junior season. In addition to his exploits on defense, Jones also starred as a return man, averaging 45.5 yards per kickoff return (on four attempts) as a senior. Jones also excelled in track, qualifying for regionals every year of his high school career.
One of his Summit High teammates, receiver Jaelon Travis, plays for K-State, part of the team’s 2020 recruiting class.
The Wildcats planned for Jones to be a key piece of the defense in the present and the future. During his weekly press conference Oct. 29, defensive coordinator Joe Klanderman singled out Jones for praise.
“He’s done a lot of good things, and he’s improved,” Klanderman said. “I think having AJ (Parker) in front of him has helped him a little bit, just to see some of AJ’s process, to see maybe some of his movements, to see where he can be patient, where he has to be fast. I think that’s helped him understand the game a little bit more. But I don’t fear Will being in there at all. He’s a guy who’s going to be, obviously, a big part of this thing moving forward and years to come.”
Just days before this season’s opener, head coach Chris Klieman expressed similar expectations for Jones.
“You guys have heard us talk about Will Jones,” Klieman said. “He’s going to play some nickelback for us. He’s a really talented, fast, athletic guy who can play some slot receivers. He’ll strike you. He’s got good ball skills, so I’m excited about Will.”