Jarron Jones

Visit to ND pushes Irish to top of blue-chip DL Jones’ list


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.



Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.




Days before facing Notre Dame, USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence


When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.

While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.

“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.

Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.

Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”

This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.