BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Redshirt senior receiver/return specialist Velus Jones Jr. was named the SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Week after an impressive all-around performance in Tennessee’s victory over South Alabama.
Jones Jr. finished with a career-best 246 all-purpose yards, including 47 yards on three punt returns and a dazzling 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter, helping the Vols secure bowl eligibility with a 60-14 win over the Jaguars.
The Saraland, Alabama, native’s return was UT’s first kickoff return for a touchdown since Ty Chandler had a 91-yarder against Indiana State on Sept. 9, 2017. It was the second of Jones’ college career as he had a 100-yard return while at USC in 2019. It was also the longest kickoff return by a Vol since Evan Berry had a 100-yarder at South Carolina on Oct. 29, 2016.
The 96-yard return increased Jones’ career kickoff return yardage total to 2,851, which is tops among all active FBS players. Jones’ performance also kept him as the SEC leader in both kickoff return average (28.11) and punt average (13.88) this season. He is one of only two FBS players this season with 500-plus yards in kickoff returns and 200-plus yards in punt returns.
Jones is the fifth Vol to earn SEC weekly honors this season and the first Tennessee player to win SEC Special Teams Player of the Week since Riley Lovingood did so on Oct. 3, 2016.
Tennessee 2021 SEC Weekly Honors
QB Hendon Hooker – Offensive (Nov. 8)
DB Brandon Turnage – Defensive (Oct. 11)
OL Cade Mays – Offensive Line (Oct. 4 & Nov. 8)
RB Len’Neth Whitehead – Freshman (Oct. 4)
RS Velus Jones Jr. – Special Teams (Nov. 22)