On a defense that’s been loaded with outstanding performances, preseason All-SEC cornerback Cyrus Jones has been overshadowed a bit by dominating defensive linemen and fellow defensive backs with bigger numbers.

But on special teams, Jones has played like an MVP for Alabama and the senior from Baltimore is putting up one of the greatest punt returning seasons the Crimson Tide has ever seen. He leads the nation with three punt returns for touchdowns after taking one back in the win against Mississippi State and getting to the end zone twice against Charleston Southern, becoming the first Alabama player to return two punts for touchdowns in a single game.

Jones also ranks eighth in the nation at 14 yards per return and his 438 total punt return yards so far this season ranks third in Alabama history.

With the introduction of the College Football Playoff, Jones could possibly rank up more yardage by playing as many 15 games this season, so simply looking at his totals could be a bit misleading, but he’s certainly making a case to be considered with the top punt returners in program history.

In fact, the real question with gauging Jones against the Tide’s all-time best is probably how he stacks up with Javier Arenas, Alabama’s all-time leader in most punt return categories. Arenas, who played at Alabama from 2006 to 2009, had the program’s best two seasons for a punt returner in 2008 and 2009.

As a junior, Arenas returned 41 punts for a national best 650 yards and three touchdowns. He followed it up the next season with 32 returns for 493 yards and a touchdown. He finished his Alabama career with 1,752 punt return yards and seven touchdowns.

It’s going to be hard for any Tide player to ever top Arenas in the return department. In addition to his punt duties he was a prolific kickoff returner for four seasons and averaged 24.6 yards per kickoff return.

Jones hasn’t worked on the kickoff return team as much, but with one or two outstanding playoff games he could at least make a case for the best single season as a punt returner, though it will probably take at least another touchdown to truly top what Arenas did in 14 games in 2008.

But if the Alabama defense continues to force the opposition into punting situations at an alarming rate, Jones certainly has a solid opportunity to move into the No. 2 spot for single-season punt return yardage.

And when Arenas is the one you’re chasing, well, No. 2 isn’t too bad.