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Irish A-to-Z: Jarron Jones

Jul 17, 2014, 12:27 PM EST

Matt Cashore - USA Today Matt Cashore - USA Today

To say that Jarron Jones was on a disappointing trajectory early in his career would be an understatement. While the monstrous defensive end looked the part of physical specimen, he struggled from the start of his Notre Dame career, needing every minute of his redshirt freshman season to just get up to the speed of college football.

Jones spent two frustrating springs trying to learn how to play defensive end like Bob Diaco and Mike Elston wanted, but even with the prototype size and strength, he wasn’t all that close to playing at a position that desperately could have used him.

But Jones’ career in South Bend was transformed… out of necessity. After injuries to Louis Nix and Kona Schwenke, it was Jones who became the next man in at defensive tackle, and after sliding inside and anchoring the interior of the Irish defensive line, Jones seemed to have found his home, even if by accident.

A strong performance against BYU, where he made seven tackles on Senior Day, gave Notre Dame hope for the future. He continued to play well to close out the season, giving the Irish at least one answer for who would fill Nix’s prodigious shoes.

It won’t be one man’s job to do that, especially as the Irish transition to a four-man front in Brian VanGorder’s new scheme. But Jones will play a key role for the Irish up front in 2014.

Let’s take a closer look at Notre Dame’s starting defensive tackle.

 

JARRON JONES
6’5.5″ 310 lbs.
Junior, No. 94

 

RECRUITING PROFILE:

Jones was an Army All-American, a Top 200 player and at times flirted with a true blue-chip recruiting grade. He had offers from elite schools — Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan and Ohio State — but chose Notre Dame before his senior year began.

Jones didn’t perform all that well in San Antonio at the Army All-American game, part of the reason that he dropped in Rivals’ late rankings. But that didn’t keep Notre Dame from collecting a big bodied, athletic player.

“Jarron is one of those young men when you talk about defensive linemen, you want to look toward their athletic ability,” head coach Brian Kelly said on Signing Day. “I got a chance to see him play basketball, an incredible athlete at 6‑6, 290 pounds, and he still hasn’t developed yet. His ceiling is so high relative to strength and work volume.”

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2012): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2013): Appeared in 12 games, making one start against Stanford. Had 20 total tackles on the season, including a sack against Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. Played his best game against BYU, where he made seven tackles and blocked a fourth quarter field goal. That was one of two kicks Jones blocked in 2013, the other coming against Temple. He also forced a fumble against Navy.

 

UPSIDE POTENTIAL

To borrow a coaching term, the arrow is pointing up for Jones. After struggling on the edge of the Irish defense, Jones seems to have found a home on the interior of the defensive line. As a player that’s already shown an ability to be disruptive in his limited snaps, Irish fans should be excited to see what Jones can do in VanGorder’s attacking system.

If you are looking for an area where Jones should make the biggest improvement, it’s from a strength and technique perspective. There is still plenty of work Jones can do to reshape his body, and there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be among the tougher defensive linemen in the country to move off the point of attack. Jones is also just barely scratching the surface as a defensive lineman, with Elston still molding him into the player he can be.

With three years of eligibility remaining, Jones essentially turned his career around in the month of November last season. That’s what a little confidence can do for a player that’s already physically gifted.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

I’m expecting a big season from Jones, who will still be learning on the go, but has all the physical traits you’d want in a front-line defensive line starter. If there’s one thing that has me most excited about Jones is the maturity that seems to have found him. A conversation I had with him after the BYU game had Jones taking responsibility for the lack of impact he’d made so far in his college career.

“Just me being young and not focused,” Jones said last November. “It was all over the place. It was in the classroom, it was also just me in general, I kinda saw myself like, ‘Where’s my life going?’ That’s when I kind of realized I needed to tighten the screw a lot.”

Maturity helps. So does an advantageous scheme. Jones is a better fit playing in the A-gap as opposed to having to play the traditional nose guard position that Nix did. And he’ll have a big responsibility in the Irish defense, wreaking havoc up front and freeing up Joe Schmidt, Nyles Morgan or Jarrett Grace to make tackles from the Mike linebacker spot.

When Kelly and the Irish coaching staff landed Jones as a recruit, he looked like the next in line as the Irish successfully reeled in blue-chip defensive linemen after a decade of struggles. It may have taken a little bit longer for the lightbulb to go on, but Jones seems back on the right track.

***

The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.

  1. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    Personally I think this kid could be better than NIX. HUGE SEC Potential !

    • sjb198 - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      You sure are proud of the SEC, aren’t you? Maybe you could work for CBS.

    • iamgolden4life - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      How does that SEC dick taste? come up for some air b4 you choke. Roll on troll. WeAreND!!!

      • 1historian - Jul 18, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        very mature

    • notthatconfused - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      I think you should change your handle to johngaltisspewinguselessdrivel

    • domerboyirish - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      JG

      SEC Mouth. Grade School talent and intelligence.

      Isn’t your shift break at Long John Silvers over by now?

    • ndgoldandblue - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      john, just stop with the SEC stuff, man. It’s getting you nowhere. If you’re a Notre Dame fan, you don’t need spout your angst about how the Irish need to compete with the SEC on the football field. Irish fans know this, as do fans for every other team outside of the SEC. Everyone knows that the SEC has been the measuring stick in college football over the last decade. In that case, your handle should be johngaltisspeakingtheobvious.

      Now…if you’re not a Notre Dame fan and simply a fan of an SEC program (or the entire conference), then you don’t need to brag about the SEC. The proof is in the pudding. We get it. It’s a fairly dominant conference in college football (not necessarily in academic standards, but that’s another conversation). Either way, you don’t need to shout at the rain anymore.

    • 1historian - Jul 18, 2014 at 11:01 AM

      1 question – did you read the book?

  2. iamgolden4life - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    This kid is going to play a major role on this defense, I didn’t realize he has 3 years left too. He like many others will fit better in BVG defense scheme than in Diacos’ bend but not break style. He is a monster @ 6’5 310 and this year may just be his coming out party. The season is just around the corner and I’m pumped b/c the future for ND is bright. WeAreND!!!!

    • irishwilliamsport - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      Any recruiting news iamgolden ?

      • iamgolden4life - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        We may only sign 1 more b4 the season starts and I believe that will be (LB) Tevon Coney with his decision coming next month. (LB) Asmar Bilial is a heavy ND lean also, could commit anytime soon.(RB) Soso Jamabo just scheduled an officall visit to ND for the Michigan game ( I would say were around 85% to land him.) Basically from here on out we will only be taking top tier recruits like Iman Marshall, Byron Cowart, Rasheem Green, John Houston, Keisean Lucier-South among others. The up coming season results along with just these kids taking their official visits to ND, will go a long way into possibly landing some of these top notch recruits. It’s imperative we land some of these elite kids on a yearly basis, we have a great shot to do just that this year. WEAreND

      • mtflsmitty - Jul 17, 2014 at 7:29 PM

        Iamgolden, I really appreciate you insights (Glad Williamsport asked). Do you have subscriptions to pay sites, or do you have some additional source of info? Or, and I would respect this as much (if not more), are you just making most of this up?

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 18, 2014 at 12:06 AM

        we will be around 18th to 15th in recruiting. it’s not gonna cut it

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 18, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        galt you’re out of your gourd.

        I will agree that 15-18 isn’t good enough, but no way this class finishes that low. no way. there will be at least 2 more additions that will be relative shockers to the masses of recruiting prognosticators, with this number going as high as 4-5.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 18, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        4Horse the only way they stay in the top ten is if they sign 2 – 5 star players. At this point I don’t see two anywhere remotely interested in ND.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 18, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        Anyone following USC, they are moving up fast and based on crystal ball predictions they should sign 3 more 5 star players. That will be a total of 5 – 5 star players with a plethora of 4 star talent. USC has a chance to knock of Alabama this year in recruiting.

  3. newmexicoirish - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m really high on Jarron. Maybe him being 6′ 5″ and 310 has something to do with it. At any rate, it seems when so many of the young guys don’t progress the way they should, or want to, it really starts to get into their head which typically causes a further slide. When he finally got his chance (out of necessity) he found out he can play and be pretty productive which goes along way to restoring confidence. Add in another year in the weight room and some additional coaching and he is going to be primed for an excellent year. Jarron is one of the reasons I think our defense is going to be much better than people expect.

  4. onward2victory - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    Jones is going to be one of the most important players on the team this year, for better or worse.

    We hear all day long about BVGs aggressive style of play and our talented secondary that will play press coverage. But before we can get to the QB or frustrate opposing receivers, we need to stop the run.

    I think Day and Jones are an excellent starting point to stopping the run, but if either of them gets injured or if Jones regresses, I’m very worried about our d-line depth. I bet that any losses we have this year are primarily due to 1) turnovers and 2) the opponent keeping our offense off the field by controlling the clock and running the ball at will.

    So here’s to JJ staying healthy and playing up to his potential!

  5. irishwilliamsport - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    Thanks iamgolden

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