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NC State Football

Levi Jones: "I'm Going To Play Every Play With 100 Percent Effort"

November 13, 2020

NC State redshirt junior linebacker Levi Jones met with the media via Zoom to discuss the Wolfpack's upcoming matchup against Florida State.

What’s been the magic formula to you getting two blocked punts this season thus far?

“I would say it’s Coach [Todd] Goebbel. He comes every week with a great scheme for what we’re going to do whether it’s a return or it’s a block. It’s just a matter of us going out and executing what he has for us and doing our job.”

What needs to happen for the team to get back to making those big special teams plays from before?

“Like I said, it’s about us executing and us having the right look against what they come out with, whether it’s what we’ve been scheming up all week or if they come out with a new plan. It’s football. It’s us going out and doing our jobs.”

During your recruitment, Florida and Florida State were on your list. Before ultimately signing with Southern California, what did you like about FSU? What made you opt to sign with the Trojans instead?

“I was born in Florida. I’ve been in Florida my whole life. I did grow up in Texas, but we would travel to Florida. For me, I was talking with Coach Bill Miller, the linebackers coach at the time, and I really liked Coach [Jimbo] Fisher. I loved the plan they had for me, but I felt more comfortable with the decision I had made. I remember talking to Coach Fisher when he came to my house on a home visit and asking him how long did he plan on being there. He gave me a straight answer, so that helped me out with what I was looking for and where I felt I needed to be.”

Being from Florida, does that make this game more personal for you?

“No, not really. Every game is just another game. It’s just another opportunity to compete and show the world what we have to offer.”

What do you take from last week’s game against Miami and apply it to FSU?

“For myself, I need to be more consistent and finish tackles. I hate missing tackles. I hate missing opportunities to make plays in the game. It’s about getting better each week. Like I said, I want to be more consistent. We need to finish. We’re coming in this week with the need to attack.”

How are you guys approaching this week preparing for potentially two different quarterbacks?

“The way we always do. We watch the film and prepare for what they want to do. They like to go into their games with a certain amount of stuff they like to run. We just have to step up to the plate and get ready to play another dual-threat. We’ve faced a couple of them this year, and we just need to handle our business.”

How much do you feel your versatility has been able to help the team?

“I’ve always told my coaches, ‘I want to play wherever you need me to help put our team in the best position to win games and be successful.’ Anywhere they need me, I will play. I love the game of football. I’m going to play every play with 100 percent effort. Wherever they need me, that’s me. I want to be that guy.”

What was your development like last year in terms of how that’s prepared you to play this season?

“When Coach [Dave] Doeren told me that the NCAA said I had to sit out, I was upset, but I didn’t go the wrong way. I wanted to play. I wanted to help the team and whatnot. I took it as a year to work on my craft and get better, to have more confidence in myself, to work on my pass-rushing moves, to work on getting stronger in the weight room. That year really helped getting acclimated to NC State and the system and how the standard is here. It was a really big year for me.”

How necessary is it to turn the tide after these last couple of games against this Florida State team that’s not quite where they normally are?

“Florida State is a great program. They won the national championship six years ago. It’s not like they don’t have good players or good coaches. They’re a great team. They’re not just going to come here and let us roll over them them and beat them. We know that. We understand that. We know we have to come with everything we’ve got, just like every week, and like I said earlier, we just have to finish strong, as well as for the rest of the season. We have to take every game and every play one by one.”

How big is playing on the special teams unit? How much pride do you take on playing in that group?

“Special teams is one of the most important phases of the game. Going into my freshman and sophomore years, especially my freshman year, that was a huge role that I had on the team I was on. At first, I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this. I want to play defense. I want to make tackles and whatnot.’ But I could still make plays on special teams. Later throughout the season, I figured that out. I was blessed to have Coach John Baxter as my special teams coach. He taught us a lot more than just being on special teams. He taught us how it correlated to your position: making plays in open spaces, defeating blocks, blocking and tackling on the same play. That’s only on the punt team you can do that. The special teams part of the game is very important and very serious, and I love being able to represent my team on that unit.”

Could you feel the momentum shift in the Duke, Virginia, and Miami games where the special teams came up with huge plays?

“Yes, especially when Duke blocked the punt first. When Duke got the punt, I was like, ‘Wow, there’s no way they got the punt before I did.” That lit a fire under me even more to get it back. We did, and we even scored off of it. I feel like that was a big momentum push in the game. And when ‘Bam’ [Knight] got his kickoff return, I was sitting with the defense like, ‘Wow, that was huge. We needed that.’ We get more points without the offense having to get them, and it deflates the other team."

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