Jul 6, 2011, 3:21 PM EDT
Up until a few weeks ago, gigantic defensive lineman Jarron Jones liked what the Irish coaching staff was telling him, but he had no frame of reference. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound blue-chipper from Rochester, New York was committed to Penn State, but still planned on visiting Notre Dame and seeing first hand what the Irish were about.
Apparently, the visit went well.
According to Rochester’s ABC affiliate, Jones is no longer committed to Penn State, and if you’re reading the writing on the wall, the Irish appear to be in the driver’s seat:
Aquinas football star Jarron Jones has taken his verbal commitment to attend Penn State back, but says the Nittany Lions are still in the running when it comes to making his college choice, but with stiff competition. Jones said on Tuesday that Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech are all in the running when it comes to making his decision.
“It was really a better way for me to explore my options,” Jones said at a football workout in Rochester. “All four schools have an equal chance at me and we’ll see where we go from there.”
Jones informed Penn State of his decision earlier this week.
“I talked to the coaches, they were upset about it but they won’t stop recruiting me. We talked and everybody’s on the same page though.”
Recent visits to Penn State and Notre Dame moved Jones to consider taking his commitment back.
“Notre Dame is a smaller school and that’s the kind of place I need to be. Aquinas is a smaller school and I’ve been doing a lot better there. It’s just a better way to explore my options.”
Visits to Penn State and Virginia Tech are in Jones’ future plans, most likely in early August to Penn State and then to Virginia Tech in the fall to take in a game. He said he expects to have a decision by the time he begins his senior season at Aquinas this fall.
Jones is listed as a defensive tackle on multiple recruiting sites, but he also profiles pretty nicely as another massive 3-4 defensive end in the Irish’s system. If Jones is being targeted as a defensive tackle, that gives the Irish a high-profile target that’ll slide in behind Louis Nix on the depth chart, at a position that many recruitniks are worried about filling.
It’s been interesting to watch the Irish seemingly sit contentedly on defensive tackle prospects after locking in Nix, a pretty shocking turn of events after watching the past few Irish coaching staffs struggle to find anybody to man that position outside of standouts Trevor Laws and Ian Williams. But the shift back to the 3-4 defense, a move abandoned by Weis, logically requires less players to play at nose guard, and with Sean Cwynar, Louis Nix, Brandon Newman, and Hafis Williams, the Irish are actually in good shape.
It bears mentioning that Jones’ area recruiter is defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, the same guy that sat outside Ishaq Williams’ house at 4:30 in the morning and pulled a commitment out of a guy that all but looked a lock for Happy Valley. (More than a few angry Penn State fans have already taken notice…)
If you want to see video of a guy absolutely pummeling upstate New York competition, here you go. Jones is far from a finished product, but you can’t teach that size and athleticism, and with a depth chart stacked in front of him, Jones could come in and spend a year developing in Paul Longo’s strength program, something that should be mandatory for all but the rarest linemen.
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