The first series in the Bison Media Zone's offseason coverage focuses on five breakthrough players for the 2021 season.
The Bison defense had plenty of fresh faces show up during the spring, but it's hard to find a player that had a bigger impact than Dom Jones. The 6-2 redshirt freshman was inserted into the lineup to begin the spring against Youngstown State with Dawson Weber out with an injury.
Jones didn't waste any time in making a difference. He finished with eight tackles at Southern Illinois and followed that up with a fumble recovery against Missouri State.
The next two weeks Jones showed off his ball-hawking ability with games with back to back interceptions. The first against Illinois State came as the Redbirds were driving deep into Bison territory. He followed that up with another pick in the Bison blowout win against North Dakota.
Jones saved his biggest play for the postseason. Early in the third quarter in NDSU's matchup with Eastern Washington, with the Bison leading 21-20 Jones picked off a pass that had been tipped. NDSU found the endzone three plays later and never looked back in a 42-20 win.
Jones finished the season with 34 tackles and a team leading three interceptions, so some may quibble that he's already had a breakout year. The intriguing part of what Jones brings to the table is what NDSU has coming back in the secondary.
Michael Tutsie will be a fourth year starter at strong safety and Weber is set to start for his second full year. But with Jones' experience, it may be hard to envision him not either starting or playing quite a bit this upcoming season.