Notre Dame got some good news early Wednesday morning with when Florida linebacker Jonathan Jones selected Notre Dame over Michigan at his 10:30 announcement – especially after Notre Dame lost out on 5-star LB Ben Davis earlier this morning.
Jones, a one time Michigan commitment, had been trending towards Notre Dame for a little while making his announcement not too surprising while at the same time reassuring for Notre Dame fans beings as Jones was considered the only “sure thing” heading into Signing Day.
At 5’11”, 220 lbs, Jones checks in a bit undersized. In fact, that might be the only knock on Jones’ game and if he were an inch or two taller, he probably would be a no-brainer 4-star linebacker as evidenced by his offer list. Jones 247 Sports profile lists offers from Florida State, LSU, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Stanford among other big time division one programs like Ole Miss, Miami, North Carolina, and Pitt. 247 actually ranks Jones much higher than other services as the #220 overall prospect and #18 prospect at outside linebacker.
Even still Jones comes to Notre Dame with a lot of upside and potential as a MIKE linebacker down the road even though 247 ranks him at outside linebacker. With a height just under 6’0″ (or right at 6’0″ according to some services) he will likely draw some comparisons to Bobbie Howard – another MIKE linebacker who played a lot bigger than his size for the Irish in the late 90’s.
At last week’s International Bowl, Jones was a standout linebacker for the US team throughout practice and in the game with four tackles and a sack. Jones ability to rush the passer should excite Notre Dame fans given Notre Dame’s lack of pass rush the last few seasons.
Jones was Notre Dame’s lone visitor for the UMass game and the individual attention he received that weekend eventually paid off for the Irish. The coach in charge of that visit? None other than Autry Denson. Denson has become Notre Dame’s ace recruiter in less than a year on the job as we profiled yesterday.
With Jones’s addition to Notre Dame’s class of 2016, Denson has now overseen the signing of seven prospects from Florida in his first class alone. Jones joins Spencer Perry, Tony Jones, Deon McIntosh, Kevin Stepherson, Devin Studstill, Troy Pride, and Parker Boudreaux. Not bad for his first year on the job.
While Jones might not be an instant impact recruit because he will need a little time in the weight room, I love the upside potential he brings to the Notre Dame linebacking corps. He is the exact type of hard-nosed linebacker that usually ends up at Michigan State or Boston College who we all look at in four years and ask ourselves why we didn’t pursue him. That won’t be the case with Jones since he has decided to call Notre Dame home for the next four years.
Notre Dame is now at 23 commitments with Jones officially on board (assuming all of the faxes Notre Dame expects to come in make their way to the Gug).
With Jones on board, Notre Dame fans now have to play the waiting game with Caleb Kelly who won’t announce his commitment until 8:30 this evening. Kelly, another linebacker, is down to Oklahoma and Notre Dame and by all accounts the 5-star talent is torn on where he will spend the next four years.