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Weekend notes: Jones, Tuck, and summer visits

Jun 1, 2012, 2:30 PM EDT

tj-jones

With students trickling back to South Bend to begin “voluntary” summer workouts and the summer semester, we are slowly on our way out of the doldrums as we crawl towards the 2012 football season.

We’ll continue profiling the freshman that are set to enroll in summer school. We’ll take a closer look at the sophomores who saved a year of eligibility last season. As we have the past two years, we’ll run down the Top 25 players on the Irish roster, and I’m slowly working my way through the Irish’s 2012 opponents, getting myself up to speed on the 12 teams that look to spoil the Irish’s BCS hopes.

A friendly reminder: While it’s just me on this side of the keyboard, this is a communal exercise. If there’s anything you’d like to see more of, feel free to reach out. You can find me on Twitter, lurking around in the comments below, or shoot me an email through the site.

Anyway, on to a few interesting links to get you through the weekend.

***

Junior wide receiver TJ Jones was home in Atlanta and made an appearance on 790 The Zone sports radio. It was an interesting segment that gave some more insight into Jones, who is going to be looked upon to do some big things for the Irish this season after battling through adversity last season after the shocking loss of his father Andre at the far too young age of 42.

Jones sounded polished and the perfect representative of Notre Dame during his interview, where he talked a bit about his recruitment to Notre Dame and his relationship with Rocket Ismail.

“He’s my Godfather,” Jones said of Rocket. “I call him for advice, talk to him about anything, from life, to football, to his family and seeing how they’re doing.”

Jones also talked about his decision to come to Notre Dame, which hinged on the fact that Stanford wouldn’t let Jones early enroll.

“As things came closer to the end of that first semester of my senior season, graduating early really became important to me and I realized the benefits I’d gain from it,” Jones said. “That’s when I thought I should start looking at other places than Stanford and Notre Dame was another place with a degree like Stanford. Coach Weis came through with his other coaches and recruited me. Having my dad play there and getting to play early, really opened my eyes to Notre Dame.”

(Irish fans take note: There’s a Top 25 program that just got done playing in a BCS game that doesn’t allow recruits to early enroll, something Notre Dame started under Charlie Weis.)

Jones also was asked about the shocking loss of his father last June, and how it affected his family.

“You just learn to lean on the people who love you,” Jones said. “Friends, teammates, coaches if you’re close to them. For me being the oldest, who was still at home it was just me being the rock at that point. I couldn’t show weakness because I had four younger siblings and my mother who needed someone to be the rock for the family.”

With the Irish looking for someone to fill the very large shoes of Michael Floyd, Jones’ year of maturing after a family-shattering ordeal might help him. The only receiver with significant returning playing time, Jones should be poised to make a big leap forward this season.

***

Speaking of great representatives of Notre Dame football, New York Giant Justin Tuck, the All-Pro, two-time Super Bowl winning defensive lineman, can add children’s author to his resume. (I imagine this will be just above Subway pitchman.)

The New York Times has more on Tuck’s creative — and philanthropic — endeavors:

Tuck, who has been the leader of the Giants’ defense for the past five seasons, is hardly the only athlete to write a children’s book. In New York alone, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson are children’s authors, and Tuck’s former teammate Tiki Barber published several titles with his twin, Ronde.

What separates Tuck, however, is the motivation behind the project; his commitment to getting children to read has become more than just the focus of his charity, RUSH for Literacy. It has also been the bedrock for Tuck and his wife, Lauran, as they get used to being parents.

“I like to think we’re pretty amazing parents,” Tuck said, laughing, “but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard sometimes. There are lots of decisions to talk about and issues to figure out. But we know that reading is where it all starts. We know that for sure.”

Tuck’s charity — Read, Understand, Succeed, and Hope for Literacy, has raised more than $1 million and donated more than 45,000 books to children in New York, New Jersey, and central Alabama, where Tuck grew up. Tuck’s charity also holds a celebrity billiards tournament.

Tuck was last in the news in South Bend thanks to a Tweet from Alice Lynch, asking the star defensive end to talk some sense into her son. While the conversation between now-former Irish defensive ends didn’t change any hearts, Tuck has become one of the best ambassadors in the NFL, and a proud alumnus of Notre Dame. Hopefully Lynch can at least glean some of that from Tuck.

***

To switch topics to the never-ending story of recruiting, IrishSportsDaily.com has a great free article on the recruits most likely to pull the trigger on a commitment next. With several high profile recruits visiting campus in the next few weeks, there could be some more good news coming for Irish fans before the calendar turns again.

Brian Smith of ISD runs through a pretty prolific lists of recruits — defensive lineman Isaac Rochell, linebacker Alex Anzalone, Stanford commit Doug Randolph, uber-recruit Jaylon Smith, defensive end Ebenezer Ogundeko, linebacker Danny Mattingly, defensive end Tashawn Bower, and cornerback Cole Luke, who will be on campus with his high school coach, former Irish quarterback Steve Belles next week.

Getting prospects on campus during the summer and before their official visits is a huge step towards getting a recruit committed. Lots of credit should go to the coaching staff for getting these highly touted recruits to campus before the season.

  1. bernhtp - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Keith, thanks for linking to the interview of TJ Jones. He’s a very articulate young man and it’s hard not to be an even bigger fan of his after listening to it.

  2. yaketyyacc - Jun 2, 2012 at 6:11 AM

    Keith, thanks for all the great and interesting articles. appreciate your time, especially during the summer, when it seems attention is focused elsewhere. have a smashing summer, and may Notre Dame have a decisive fall.

  3. borromini - Jun 2, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Looks like the first of those recruits could announce this afternoon. 5* OLB Jaylon Smith is set to announce just after 5:00 EST and the Irish are predicted to be the fortunate school to get his pledge.

    • bernhtp - Jun 2, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      Getting Jaylon Smith will be huge. Rochell and Anzalone might be committing soon also. This would be a bumper class if they all come. Of course, we would probably also need to have a good season to keep them all through signing day.

    • bernhtp - Jun 2, 2012 at 6:04 PM

      Jaylon Smith verbally committed to ND. Go Irish!!!

      Huge pickup.

  4. ct111 - Jun 2, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Nudeman where are you?? I need your insights on Jaylon Smith!

    • nudeman - Jun 2, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      ct
      For the record, I predicted the other day that Smith would shock us and go to USC.
      Based on some stuff I read about tweets with his buddy Hutchings who appears headed there.

      Now the winds seem to be blowing in ND’s favor as the world waits for today’s announcement.
      Apparently Elston is there with him
      I also predicted Rochell would be ND but Anzalone to Florida

      Tick, tick, tick ……………….

      • ct111 - Jun 2, 2012 at 2:12 PM

        Yeah I had a feeling that Jaylon Smith will go to USC as well. But thanks for keeping all of us inform with your quick updates

      • nudeman - Jun 2, 2012 at 2:18 PM

        If he comes to ND, time to twirl
        Wheeeeee!

        http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/rj-all-day/adebisi-bawsin-o.gif

      • nudeman - Jun 2, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        ct
        No prob

        Any news on Lynch?

  5. nudeman - Jun 2, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    ct
    Right here man. Waiting and watching like the rest of you.
    Check for some life footage of me:

    http://www.fohguild.org/forums/attachments/screenshots/200308d1331737898-animated-gif-thread-4ttpr.gif

  6. 9irish - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    They have been doing so well at recruiting, at least initially. If they start knocking off wins in these high profile games (is there not one? Ireland, primetime, Soldier Field, etc etc) these guys will be definite commits and others will fall off the trees. I’ve never thought they lacked the talent, other than having too many in one position and lacking in other areas.

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