KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Another Vols football player got some postseason hardware on Wednesday. Velus Jones Jr. became just the second Tennessee player to be named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year by the league office.
Jones was the only player in the nation with more than 700 receiving yards (722), more than 500 kickoff return yards (506), and more than 200 punt return yards (272). For the season, the redshirt senior averaged 126.3 all-purpose yards per game, good enough for third in the Southeastern Conference.
Jones leads the SEC in punt return average (16), and second in kickoff return average (28.1). He also leads all active players in the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly Division I-A, with 2,851 career kickoff return yards. His 96-yard kickoff return during the second quarter of the South Alabama game essentially shut the door on the Jaguars and earned Jones a co-Special Teams Player of the Week honor from the SEC.
A week later against rival Vanderbilt, Jones returned a punt 50-yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Jones is sharing the award with Alabama’s Jameson Williams. The only other Tennessee football player to win the award is Evan Berry in 2015.
The Special Teams Player of the Year award is the third postseason honor for Jones. The Saraland, Alabama, native was named first-team All-SEC on Tuesday by conference coaches. He was also named a Reese’s Senior Bowl All-American on Wednesday. Jones will attend the annual end-of-year senior showcase game in Mobile along with Vols defensive back Alontae Taylor.
Vols OL Mays, Jones Jr. receives second all-SEC honors
A day after receiving the postseason honor from the conference’s coaches Tennessee offensive lineman Cade Mays and Jones Jr. were named to the Associated Press All-SEC team.
Jones was named to the first team as the all-purpose selection. Mays was named to the second team.
Mays was a two-time winner of the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week award given out by the league’s office. Pro Football Focus graded Mays as the Vols best lineman this season after he gave up just one sack and five quarterback pressures in 493 snaps played.
Tennessee ranked 16th nationally in total offense averaging 459 yards per game, including 212 rushing ypg. The ground game was third best in the SEC and 19th in the country.
On top of his special teams stats, Jones Jr. set career highs in receptions (52), receiving yards (722), receiving touchdowns (six), good enough for second on the team in each category during the 2021 season.
Tennessee will conclude the season on Dec. 30 in Nashville when they face Purdue in the Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. Eastern time.