Alize Jones Named to Mackey Award Watch List

Alize Jones - Notre Dame TE
Sophomore TE Alize Jones was named to 2016 Mackey Award Watch List. (Photo: Zach Bolinger // Icon Sportswire)

Sophomore Alize Jones is not at the top of the Notre Dame tight end depth chart entering the 2016 season.  That didn’t stop the Mackey Award from naming the Nevada native to its 2016 Pre-Season watch list on Wednesday.  Jones was one of 45 tight ends nation wide only five of which are sophomores like Jones.

Last season as a freshman Alize Jones started five games for Notre Dame and hauled in 13 passes for 190 yards without reaching the end-zone.  Ranked as the #1 prep tight end in the class of 2015, Jones saw increased action last year following the injury to Durham Smythe.

Smythe – the only Notre Dame tight end to reach the end-zone in 2015 – is back to 100% heading into 2016 and is expected to start for the Irish in the season opener.  Jones, however, is still expected to see more action this season even with the return of Smythe after experimenting at the “W” receiver position in the spring.

You couldn’t tell much in the Blue-Gold Game when Jones played more of a traditional tight end position, but throughout spring practice Jones played a lot on the outside where he was running deep routes and matching up against corners instead of linebackers.

With the departure of Corey Robinson due to an early retirement, Jones will get an even closer look as a receiver in fall camp.  He is almost certainly headed for a hybrid role similar to how Tyler Eifert was used in 2012.  The tight end position for Notre Dame will also feature Tyler Luatua and Nic Weishar – the former of which is more on an inline blocker while the latter is a receiving threat like Jones.

Watching Jones in fall camp will be one of the more interesting storylines as Brian Kelly, Mike Denbrock, and Mike Sanford work Jones into the Notre Dame offense and find a role for him in what should be another potent Irish offense.  Jones possess a world of talent and potential with the ability to create match up problems for any defense.  Expect the Irish offensive three headed coaching monster to find a way to get him the ball.  Often.

Jones could also help fix Notre Dame’s red-zone woes that cost them dearly in big games in 2015.   Notre Dame tight ends caught just one touchdown all season a year ago – Smythe’s week two fake field goal score against Virginia.  That level should increase quite a bit in 2016.

Notre Dame Opponents on the Mackey Watch List

Notre Dame will be forced to defend four tight ends on the Mackey Watch List in 2016.  Nevada’s Jarred Gipson, Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges, Michigan State’s Josiah Price, and Stanford’s Dalton Schultz are all among the 45 tight ends on the list.  Schultz’s name should sound familiar to Notre Dame fans.  The Cardinal tight end was heavily recruited by the Irish and received a “Pot of Gold” in the process.


Past Notre Dame Mackey Award Winners

Tyler Eifert is the only Notre Dame tight end to win the award since its inception in 2000.  Should Jones take home the honors in 2016, Notre Dame would join Arkansas as the only school to produce more than one Mackey Award winner.  Both Anthony Fasano and John Carlson were named finalists for the award but neither took home the hardware.  Smythe was named to the pre-season watch list last season as well.

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