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Freshman Focus: Jarron Jones

May 25, 2012, 9:30 AM EDT


(The third in a multi-part series profiling select members of the incoming class of 2012. The first installment was on wide receiver Chris Brown. The second on safety Elijah Shumate)

Once viewed as a luxury defensive item or a potential offensive lineman, the transfer of Aaron Lynch has moved blue-chip defensive lineman Jarron Jones up the depth chart by default. The Rochester native, who had given a verbal commitment to Penn State early (pre-Sandusky) before committing to the Irish over offers from schools like Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, and Ohio State, is the type of mold-breaking defensive linemen that only saw South Bend in a visitor’s uniform until recent years.

A good enough athlete to be one of the better basketball players in upstate New York, Jones will bring his 6-foot-6, 300-pound frame to the Irish defensive line, where he’ll at the very least give Stephon Tuitt a run for most imposing-looking guy getting off the bus.

Let’s circle the bases and take a closer look at Jones.

The Skinny: It’s worth covering Jones’ recruiting cohorts once more just for emphasis. His offer sheet might be the best looking of any member of the class of 2012, and any other year he’d be the bright shining defensive line recruit to surpass all others, but two guys named Lynch and Tuitt got Irish fans spoiled. With Lynch gone, it’ll be interesting to see if Jones is ready to push for a spot in the rotation at defensive end, or if he’s more likely to play on the interior as a defensive tackle.

How Ready is he?┬áProbably the million-dollar question. Jones wasn’t all that impressive to recruitniks at the Army All-American bowl, sliding down the Rivals board and perhaps affirming the thoughts of analysts who thought his best position was along the offensive line. I’ll trust this coaching staff’s projection abilities more than the online recruiting services, but it does say that Jones wasn’t the physically dominating type that Lynch and Tuitt were.

You can’t teach Jones’ best asset — impressive size and great feet. The work he put in after his basketball season in the weight room — not to mention Paul Longo’s three months with him this summer — will determine whether or not he’s in the rotation or a prime candidate for a redshirt season.

Best Case Scenario: Jones walks in and adds another valuable swing player to the defensive line rotation. Nobody saw Chase Hounshell getting snaps along the defensive line last year and Jones already walks in with a better frame than Chase. With his length and athleticism, Jones could turn into a Stephon Tuitt-like freshman performer, but doing more without getting a one-game suspension and tackling a bout with mono.

Worst Case Scenario: Jones enjoys a season watching… the offensive line. After working with the defense early, Jones’ move to the offensive side of the ball shouldn’t be seen as a true “worst case scenario” but it does take away even more from a depth chart along the defensive line that started as a strength, but now could be surprisingly thin in 2014.

What Should Make People Happy: Just about anything. If Jones contributes next season, it’s going to be because he’s really good. Logically, Kelly is going to want to protect eligibility for 2014, when Stephon Tuitt might be on his way to greener pastures. A redshirt year didn’t mean the staff didn’t like Jarrett Grace or Ben Councell. It won’t mean they don’t like Jones either.

How Badly Does the Irish Need Him? On a scale of 1-10, short-term 3, long-term 8. He’s a great building block for Bob Diaco’s defensive line and guys that big certainly don’t grow on trees.

One Tidbit for the Road: A two-time first-team, All-State player, Jones wasn’t the state’s player of the year. His 5-foot-7 teammate was. Rochester Aquinas running back Billy Lombardi won that honor. He’ll play lacrosse at Penn State.

  1. herringbonesports - May 25, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    While we expect a step up in production from Tuitt, it would seem the staff will be looking to find a guy that can truly affect the pass rush with Lynch gone. KLM & Tuitt have looked more like bull rushers that collapse the pocket as opposed to coming around the edge. Jones has an impressive film from a pass rushing aspect, but he played WAY too high – constantly standing up. His athletic ability really allowed him to dominate.

    I think Jones and Romeo Okwara will be given a look as 3rd down guys early and we probably need one of them to make a small impact to counter the absence of #19. If he learned from the Army AA game that he’s got to change his style at the next level he’s hopefully gotten that head start on getting that pad level down.

  2. moresteelers - May 25, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Okwara probably will not play this year he is only 17yrs old, he would be going up against guys that are 2 or 3 years older than him. I can see Jones playing DE this year, especially with 4 commits to the O-line for next year.

    • herringbonesports - May 25, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      I would have to disagree with basing a players ability to play specifically his age. He’s 6’5”+ and 250+. If he comes in and shows the ability to beat Tackles and TEs off the edge he’ll get a chance to carve out a role. Especially with him being the only edge rusher in the class and Shembo/Williams having their own issues.

      Projecting playing time for freshmen isn’t about who is going to have the best career, it’s usually a lot more about who fills a small need or role. Okwara certainly can’t be discounted before he steps on campus.

  3. guknights75 - May 25, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Great article, but he is from Rochester not Syracuse ­čśë (you did say Rochester Aquinas at the end though)

    I think he was actually battling a shoulder injury during the Army AA game and he also looked to be about 230 lbs. from playing Basketball, so I’m not to concerned about his performance in the game. I agree that he will grow into a beast under Longo’s program and I can tell you that if he is anything like his brothers (No not MMA Champ Jon “Bones” or Arthur III and Chandler from Syracuse) he has been working hard during the off-season and he could definitely be ready to make an impact come fall, especially after learning that the departure of Lynch will give him an opportunity for some meaningful PT.

    Out of the 3 Freshman D-line(Jones, Day, Okwara) I feel Jones would benefit from a year in the weight room the most because Okwara’s lifting numbers are crazy for someone his age and Day will have already been with the team for 7 months. But out of those 3 I think Jones has the most potential to be a star/impact player. Like you said if he is red-shirted, it does not mean that the staff doesn’t like him.

    • borromini - May 25, 2012 at 8:55 PM

      His parents went to Syracuse U. I’m guessing that’s where KA mispoke.

  4. idratherbeinsouthbend - May 25, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    Somebody tell BK to go recruit this man

    20-something freshman are proven leaders on the FB field in virtually any CFB program they step into. He’s been through more in the last 10 years than many FB stars will go through in a lifetime.

    • nudeman - May 26, 2012 at 11:08 AM

      Well that would be a great story for NBC to promo to death, but it’s not gonna’ happen. Among other things, he’s 26 and hasn’t played football in 10 years.
      I’ve seen him interviewed and he’s an awesome individual.
      Amazingly, he harbors no dark thoughts of revenge or hatred toward the woman. The justice completely failed him, as there was little or no evidence, yet his atty (Prob a Public Defender) told him to take a plea deal because “you’re a big black man and this won’t look good in front of a jury”.
      Now THAT a**hole atty should be in jail, along with his accuser

      This man is very well spoken and seems like a bright guy and was recruited by USC before his world fell apart. So I don’t think he’s coming to ND any time soon, unless he has a ticket to a game.

      • bernhtp - May 26, 2012 at 1:12 PM

        I agree. He seems like a great guy and great story given the tragic circumstances. However, because of his age, I doubt he is a four-year player and graduate, which seems to disqualify him from Notre Dame.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - May 29, 2012 at 1:13 AM

        Little or no evidence? I thought they had the victim’s positive ID and testimony that he did it………….until she recanted. By then it was way too late to unravel what happened to this kid. She took a lot from him but he kept his dignity and has handled this with class. I read somewhere that the girl was afraid to come clean because her mother had recovered a $1.5 M judgment against the school where this happened and she was afraid they would have to give the money back. Unfreakinbelieveable!

      • nudeman - May 30, 2012 at 1:46 PM

        Well, with all due respect to our system of justice, testimony from the accuser with what turned out to be an ulterior motive … I don’t consider that much in the way of evidence.

        If there were receipts for things like duct tape and rope, security camera video from an apt. complex, hair fibers, and other stuff that put him in the area at the time of the crime, then we would be talking about some serious evidence.

        Can’t believe his atty/clown told him to plea out.

  5. jerseyshorendfan1 - May 30, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Nude-apparently there was some kind of incident between the two of them that she called a rape/kidnapping, so presumably there probably was some evidence that placed him at the scene of the “crime”. Although eyewitness testimony and victim accounts are notoriously unreliable, her story was compelling enough to convince the defendant in the civil case to fork over 1.5 mil, although there is a much lesser burden of proof in the civil system. Faced with the prospect of serving 41 years if the jury believed the victim, what would you have done? That’s a lifetime. It’s easy for us to say I would take my chances in Court, but he is a black kid (probably using the services of a public pretender) and the odds are stacked against him. If you don’t think so, just look at the racial composition of the inmate population of your local jail/prison. African Americans in the overall population about 10%; African Americans in prison population about 90%. Here’s how our justice system works: African American mother fraudulently gets some extra WIC coupons to feed the kids and she’s convicted and does 3 years and kids go into foster care. Jon Corzine and his pals at MF Global steal 1.6 billion dollars (billion with a “b”) and it doesn’t even merit much of an investigation, let alone a prosecution. I hope the guy is able to fulfill his dream of playing ball somewhere.

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