After starting all 11 games a year ago, Washburn defensive end Will Jones is excited for his senior season, but the former Washburn Rural standout also has trouble believing it got here so soon.
"It snuck up on me,'' Jones laughed. "You get involved in the season and then the off-season kind of rolls into the regular season and before you know it it's been four years.''
Jones has played in all 23 games with 20 starts for Washburn since transferring from Hutchinson Community College after his freshman year and has compiled 46 career tackles with 10 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
Now the key for the 6-foot-2, 235-pounder is to continue stepping up his game this fall and try to help the Ichabods improve on last year's 5-6 record.
"You can only be so satisfied,'' Jones said. "Looking at where we were last year and the season record, and even the season before that, it's definitely something you want to build upon and change aspects of that every single day.
"We're far from complacent and me personally, that's something I'm huge on, trying to build on that.''
Jones was in on 21 tackles a year ago, with 2.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. While he would obviously like to improve those numbers as a senior, he's more concerned about just filling his role.
"For me, it's kind of whatever the team needs me to do,'' he said. "If I was to say it was all about the stats and everything like that, that would be a selfish answer.
"Our group goal is to get to the quarterback better, so however I can play into that is good. If I have to be the guy, or I have to set somebody else up to be the guy I just want to fill in where they need me.''
Washburn coach Craig Schurig will be looking for continued improvement out of Jones and all the defensive linemen this season.
"They all need to step up and at that position in particular, the D-line, we feel they need more energy and need to play harder than they have,'' Schurig said. "(Will) has abilities and he should be a leader as a senior and we're looking for really good things from him.
"He's a really good pass rusher, but we need that same enthusiasm for the run, too, because you've got to be physical on the defensive line. We feel like we have a lot of guys on the defensive front and they're pushing each other pretty hard so it's competitive.''
Jones said he and his teammates are up to the challenge and eager to show that, beginning with the Sept. 5 season-opener against Lincoln at Yager Stadium.
"Not to brag on my group, but I feel we've really come together this offseason,'' Jones said. "Looking at some of the guys between (Landon) Urban, (Bradley) Breckenridge, Braden Rose and a lot of those guys, we're really starting to mesh and I feel like our chemistry as a group will be really good.''