By Barry Allen
Camellia Bowl Media Relations Director
MONTGOMERY – Ja’Von Rolland-Jones could make college football history on Saturday night inside the historic Cramton Bowl.
The Arkansas State senior defensive end and two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year brings 43.5 career sacks into Saturday night’s game against Middle Tennessee. He needs one sack to break the current NCAA career record currently held by former Arizona State All-American Terrell Suggs. Suggs recorded 44 career sacks in his amazing career with the Sun Devils.
“Honestly, I don’t think about the sack record,” Rolland-Jones said. “I just want to win the game. I am just thinking about winning. I want to go out on top and win a bowl game.”
A-State head coach Blake Anderson understands he has a once-in-a-lifetime type of player.
“I have never had a more dominant player that consistently for that amount of time,” Anderson said. “We’ve had guys that have stepped up and had a great year, but to put that kind of career together. Obviously, he is one-half sack away from the career record. To me, that’s a huge accomplishment. That says a lot about how hard he has worked. He has played through a lot of injuries, bumps and bruises. I think our guys have utilized him that really lets him be what he is best at. Hopefully, he can break that record and put his name at the top of that list. It would be huge for him and the A-State logo as well.”
Rolland-Jones was named the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year after recording 51 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks in 11 games for the Red Wolves.
Through the first three games of the season, the Mesquite, Texas native only had six tackles and one-half tackle for loss. Over the last eight games, he dominated opposing teams with 45 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. He has recorded at least one sack in eight straight games for the Red Wolves.
Rolland-Jones says that working hard every day in practice has been the key to his success.
“It’s a lot of practice,” he said. “Some people think you come to practice and play around, but you have to take practice seriously. Whether you are going against the scout team or not, you still have to get off your blocks and work on hand placement. Everything you accomplish in practice will carry over to the game.”
Anderson calls him a unique player.
“He is just a tremendous player,’ Anderson added. “You see some pass rushers that have one move. He’s got power. He’s got the ability to beat you with speed. He can change directions on you as well. He is playing the run game as well as he has ever played it. He is about 15 pounds lighter. He is truly a multiple player. He has so many weapons and it makes it tough to defend him. He also had a tremendously high motor. He is in great shape.”
When he arrived in Jonesboro five years ago, Rolland-Jones thought he could be a good player, but the last two years have exceeded his own expectations.
“Honestly, I knew I could be a pretty good player, but I didn’t think it would be to this level,” Rolland-Jones said. “I’ve always had the mindset that if I am going to do something, then I am going to do it. I felt like I could be a good player, but I did not know it would go this far.”
And with one more sack, he will go further than anyone in NCAA history.