Keith Arnold

Hainsey247
Irish 247

Irish land IMG Academy OL Robert Hainsey

2 Comments

Notre Dame landed their second commitment at The Opening, with IMG Academy’s Robert Hainsey picking the Irish. The offensive lineman chose the Irish over national offers from Michigan, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Penn State and plenty of others, with Harry Hiestand once again landing one of his priority targets, snapping up a player who profiles as a Top 100 prospect.

Hainsey announced on Sunday evening from Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon and also on social media.

“I have been extremely blessed throughout this process,” Hainsey said in a statement. “I truly appreciate all of the coaches who have believed in me and offered me a scholarship. However, I believe I have made the best decision for my future, and I want to thank the staff at this University for this opportunity to better myself. That being said, I will be committing to the University of Notre Dame. Go Irish.”

Hainsey profiles as an interior lineman, though he impressed those in attendance at The Opening by playing up to his listed size at 6-foot-4.5 and 275 pounds while looking athletic. That gives him a chance to stay outside if the Irish need him at tackle. Hainsey is the left tackle for one of the nation’s most talented teams at IMG Academy, where he transferred before his junior season from Pittsburgh.

Reloading the offensive line is a priority in this recruiting cycle and the Irish are on pace. They’ve added Hainsey to Josh Lugg and Dilan Gibbons. Hiestand has also stayed in pursuit of five-star tackle Foster Sarell, who played up to his grade in Oregon.

Hainsey is the 15th commitment in the 2017 class.

 

Irish A-to-Z: Jarron Jones

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 11: Jarron Jones #94 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes against Jon Heck #71 of the North Carolina Tar Heels at Notre Dame Stadium on October 11, 2014 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

A fifth year is essentially an all-or-nothing proposition for Jarron Jones. It’s also the silver lining after a training camp injury robbed Jones of his senior season.

Now Jones has to deliver. On the mountain of talent he possesses, and as a critical piece at the point of attack for an Irish defense that needs to get tough against the run.

At his best, Jones is one of the elite talents in the country. But we’ve seen that only in flashes—mostly on one impressive Saturday evening in Tallahassee two falls ago. With an offseason plan to limit Jones’ snap count to pick and choose his spots, the veteran has a chance to dominate in the trenches during a season that’s sure to be an audition for NFL scouts.

 

JARRON JONES
6’5.5″, 315 lbs.
Grad Student, No. 94, DT

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Flirted with a five-star ranking before falling to four stars after a disappointing US Army All-American game, Jones was still an elite recruit out of high school. The Top 150 prospect had offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Michigan before picking Notre Dame.

 

PLAYING CAREER

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, one of two kicks Jones blocked in 2013.

Junior Season (2014): Played and started in Notre Dame’s first 11 games before a foot injury ended his season. His 40 tackles tied Sheldon Day for most tackles from a defensive lineman. He finished tied for second on the team with 7.5 TFLs.

Senior Season (2015): Missed the entire regular season after injuring his MCL during fall camp. Played 14 snaps against Ohio State, registering no official stats but earning a +1.2 ranking per PFF College with a QB hit.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

This went out the window the moment Jones got rolled up in preseason camp.

Keith Gilmore has a very moldable piece of clay in Jones, and he’s likely spent a lot of this summer getting to know one of his star pupils. I think there’s more Notre Dame can get out of Jones as a pass rusher, and hopefully Gilmore does a good job of unlocking that.

Jones has an interesting first seven weeks, including two dates against option, cut-blocking offenses. At nearly 6-foot-6, if he’s capable of keeping his lower body healthy, he’s also primed to put up very big numbers, with a double-digit TFL season on the horizon.

That’s the baseline of my expectations, and I think Jones will also make an impact with another blocked kick (or two) in 2015, adding to the four career blocks he already has. But the duo of Jones and Sheldon Day has the potential to be one of the most dominant tackle pairings in college football, and could bring the Irish back to the glory days of the Holtz era when you think about wreaking havoc on the inside.

I’m all in on Jones, but he’s got to prove that he’s healthy to unlock the potential just about everybody sees.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

We saw a final season in South Bend turn Sheldon Day into an every-down machine after showing flashes of brilliance in moments over three seasons. I don’t think that’s a fair comparison for Jones, but finding some type of consistency and motor is crucial to Jones’ final phase of development at the college level.

It hasn’t always been easy for Jones. A freshman season was one spent frustrating coaches with immaturity and an inability to grasp his role as a defensive end. His sophomore year was salvaged when he was the only remaining option to slide to nose guard—a lightbulb that went on just when the Irish needed it. Now he’s an elder statesman on a young team and an even younger defense, a desperately needed piece of the puzzle who has all the talent in the world when he’s engaged—and healthy.

That last point can’t be over-stated. Jones has some wear on his tires. Foot and knee injuries don’t make it easy on a guy who is likely carrying 20 to 25 more pounds than what’s listed.

Jones sure looks like an elite defensive lineman. He even plays like it sometimes. To reach his ceiling he needs to stay healthy and make sure his dominant spurts aren’t the exception.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

This is the hardest prediction of the series thus far, and it really comes down to Jones’ health and ability to contribute from game one. With Daniel Cage capable of playing major snaps at nose guard, Jones won’t be asked to play 60 snaps a game—Kelly tagged the magic number around 35 this summer.

Does that make Jones a part time player? Or someone whose skill-set limits him? I’m not sure exactly. He’s a gifted athlete—expect a blocked kick or two this season—and has the ability to wreak havoc in the backfield. Perhaps the diminished play count allows Jones to spend more time at full throttle, throwing away work volume for a sprinter’s mentality.

If he’s healthy, I don’t know how you limit Jones to 35 snaps. Especially because he has all the ability to make double-digit TFLs this season and detonate the interior of opposing offensive lines.

I’ll predict a monster season if his health lets him, a dozen TFLs and some postseason accolades. But he needs to survive option attacks from Army and Navy and some other run-heavy opponents as well.

 

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford
Scott Daly
Micah Dew-Treadway
Liam Eichenberg
Jalen Elliott
Nicco Feritta
Tarean Folston
Mark Harrell
Daelin Hayes
Jay Hayes
Tristen Hoge
Corey Holmes
Torii Hunter Jr.
Alizé Jones
Jamir Jones

 

Irish A-to-Z: Jamir Jones

Jamir Jones
Rivals / Yahoo Sports!
4 Comments

Joining his older brother on campus, Jamir Jones starts his college football career with a similar fraternal trait: positional flexibility. Jones is set to begin his career at outside linebacker. He could grow into a defensive end. Or move to inside linebacker.

Multiple positions isn’t anything new for Jones. The Rochester standout played tight end and quarterback in high school, a swiss-army knife who needed to work out in front of Notre Dame’s staff before they could evaluate him as a defensive player during last summer’s camp circuit.

One they got their look at Jones, the Irish staff was confident he’d have a role on this team. With the Irish still looking for pass rushers, Jones could find his way to defensive end—the spot where his brother started his career before shifting inside.

 

JAMIR JONES
6’3″, 220 lbs.
Freshman, LB

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, Class AA first-team All-State, three-star recruit. Had offers from Boston College, UConn (Bob Diaco), Pitt, Rutgers and Syracuse before committing to Notre Dame in the summer.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

You’ve got to like an athlete this size that played high school quarterback and also tight end in addition to his defensive duties. That’s code for athleticism, something the older Jones brings by way of power and size while Jamir needs to show an ability to play on the edge and in space.

Three star prospect is less of a hinderance than knowing how he’ll project. And Notre Dame has taken brothers before (classmate Julian Okwara, Zack and Nick Martin) while passing on other siblings in the past (Alex Bars, but not his two brothers who ended up in Big Ten programs).

What kind of player Jones will become? That’s hard to say without seeing him assimilate into college football. But listening to the Irish coaching staff, it sure doesn’t sound like they view him as a modest three-star recruit with average offers.

Add to that an older brother who understands the urgency of 2016, you can expect a motivated freshman once fall camp opens, especially with a chance to play next to his brother likely a huge factor.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

If Jones can rush the passer I think he can play this season. If he’s going to be asked to play linebacker, it’s a redshirt in 2016.

In baseball lingo, Jones feels like a toolsy prospect who can do a lot of things. That’s translated quite nicely under Brian Kelly, with offensive success stories (C.J. Prosise) and defensive ones as well (James Onwualu).

Ultimately, a growth spurt or weight-room participation will likely determine what type of player Jones becomes. Add an inch or two to his height and he could be a prototype pass rusher at weakside defensive end. Stay the same height and fill out and he could play either inside or out at linebacker.

Spring will likely be the most important time for Jones. He’ll have made it through his first season and the staff will know better what they have in him.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford
Scott Daly
Micah Dew-Treadway
Liam Eichenberg
Jalen Elliott
Nicco Feritta
Tarean Folston
Mark Harrell
Daelin Hayes
Jay Hayes
Tristen Hoge
Corey Holmes
Torii Hunter Jr.
Alizé Jones

Irish A-Z: Alizé Jones

Alize Jones Temple
8 Comments

Notre Dame’s next great tight end might be their next starting boundary wide receiver. With the retirement of Corey Robinson and a lack of outside receivers ready to contribute, Alizé Jones spent spring transitioning to receiver, a position he was probably built to play in the first place.

Jones came to Notre Dame as a blue-chip tight end prospect, but his skill-set was custom-built for catching passes not throwing blocks. With the goal of getting the team’s best 11 on the field, finding a role for Jones on the outside allows the depth at tight end to pick up the slack in the trenches, with the hope that Jones will thrive as he matches up against cornerbacks.

 

ALIZÉ JONES
6’4.5″, 240 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 10, TE/WR

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A U.S. Army All-American, a first-team USA Today All-American and the No. 1 tight end in the country, per 247 Sports. Jones picked Notre Dame over UCLA—where he was long committed, and had offers from USC, Georgia, Auburn and plenty of other top programs.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2015): Played in all 13 games, starting five. Jones led all tight ends with 13 catches for 190 yards. His 14.6 yards per catch was the most of any receiver not named Will Fuller.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

I feel pretty spot on about this one, even with Durham Smythe‘s season ending after the Virginia game.

All the glowing praise above doesn’t necessarily mean I think Jones is a breakout star. He’ll likely be used situationally, capable of being a jumbo slot receiver (like Troy Niklas and Tyler Eifert were used on occasion), and potentially as a red zone mismatch. (Though we’re still waiting for jump balls to Corey Robinson, so why would Jones hop the line?)

Playing at Bishop Gorman, arguably the top high school program in the country, will work both ways for Jones. He’s played national competition, but he’s also played in an offense that scored points by the bushel. So while he was used mostly as a jumbo receiver during a 41 catch, 900+ yard senior season, that’s not what’ll be needed to be successful at the next level.

Jones will play. But as we’ve seen with Kelly, he wants to trust his tight ends to hold the point of attack, making Smythe the candidate for most snaps. But behind that, I think Jones finds a way to impact the Irish offense, especially if Mike Sanford is as creative as we’re told.

This is a very, very exciting prospect, and perhaps the most readymade offensive player in the freshman class. But before he can be a star, he needs to be able to do everything that makes the tight end position the most versatile in the Irish offense.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Jones maybe isn’t the freak that the Irish had in Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert and Troy Niklas. But at 6-foot-4.5 and 240 pounds, he’s certainly a load. While his freshman season may not have been the breakout some expected, he did average a hefty 14.6 yards per catch, a number that lets you know that he’s capable of wreaking havoc when he gets his chance.

Opportunity plays a big part in projecting a future, and there’s no more open window than the one Jones now looks through. Jones very well may have switched to boundary receiver even if Robinson decided to play, but there will certainly be more reps available without Robinson.

Is Jones primed to be a star? He could be. I don’t necessarily think it’s fair to compare him to three tight ends that came off the board in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, but nothing Jones did last year should deter you from thinking he could be that type of impact player.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Jones could turn into Notre Dame’s No. 2 receiver in 2016 if he takes this opportunity and runs with it. That could mean a huge uptick in numbers, with 40 to 50 catches not out of the realm of possibility.

While size and match-up issues haven’t necessarily turned Irish receivers into targets, Jones could also pick up some of the slack in the red zone, knowing that the Irish offense desperately needs to improve their efficiency in the scoring zones, especially without quick-strike scorers Will Fuller and C.J. Prosise. Matching Chris Brown’s four touchdown catches seems like a logical next step for Jones.

In many ways, Jones is one of several unknown quantities that’ll help determine whether or not the Irish are a playoff contender or just a team with some nice young talent. While much of his productivity will likely be determined by the team’s offensive identity and philosophy, he’s another key piece to an offensive puzzle that doesn’t have a lot of experience but has plenty going for it.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford
Scott Daly
Micah Dew-Treadway
Liam Eichenberg
Jalen Elliott
Nicco Feritta
Tarean Folston
Mark Harrell
Daelin Hayes
Jay Hayes
Tristen Hoge
Corey Holmes
Torii Hunter Jr.

 

Irish get commitment from 4-star RB CJ Holmes

CJ Holmes
Rivals / Yahoo Sports
2 Comments

Notre Dame landed one of their top targets at running back in Connecticut multi-purpose running back CJ Holmes. The four-star prospect made the news official on Friday morning, releasing a video with Bleacher Report.

Holmes picked Notre Dame over finalists Alabama and Tennessee, and had impressive offers from schools like Michigan, UCLA and Penn State. He is commitment No. 14 for the Irish.

The Irish coaching staff, led by area recruiter Scott Booker and position coach Autry Denson, rolled out the red carpet for Holmes and his family at the Irish Invasion camp in late-June. A priority target for the Irish at the position, the visit all but sealed the deal for Holmes, who released multiple quotes that shared similar sentiments.

“I’m headed to the University of Notre Dame and to be honest, my gut was the biggest factor behind the decision,” Holmes told reporters at The Opening, according to Tom Loy of Irish247. “Leaving campus, I just had a feeling that Notre Dame was where I was supposed to be. I was infatuated with everything about the institution. I hadn’t felt like that anywhere else.”

As a running back, Holmes is often compared to recent third-rounder CJ Prosise. He’s smooth in all facets of the game, capable of splitting out wide, but at six-foot and 200 pounds, he’s carrying enough heft to profile as a between-the-tackles runner. Holmes is set to begin his career at running back when he gets to South Bend next summer, a different path that Prosise, who bounced from safety to wide receiver before finding a home for a season at running back.

Holmes is participating at The Opening, where he’ll now carry the flag for the Irish as their lone commitment participating. (That could change this weekend with offensive lineman Robert Hainsey predicted to pick Notre Dame.) We’ll get a better look at Holmes’ explosiveness and speed when he takes part in the SPARQ testing, running the 40-yard dash and participating in other power and speed drills as well.

 

***

For more on the state of Notre Dame recruiting — and an early prediction that proved right on Holmes — give a listen to this week’s Blown Coverage, with special guest Tom Loy of Irish247.