Running back Tony Jones Jr. commits to Irish


This weekend’s Junior Day netted another recruit, with Notre Dame’s coaching staff accepting the commitment of Florida running back Tony Jones Jr. The IMG Academy runner was in South Bend this weekend, and is the first running back in the fold for the Irish in the 2016 class.

With offers from Florida, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and South Carolina, Jones has some impressive early offers before he hits the combine and camp circuit. At 210 pounds already, Jones fits the mold of a potential power back, a welcome addition to a depth chart.

Jones had early interest in Notre Dame especially after earning an offer, and took in campus with his parents. The first big fish landed by new running back coach Autry Denson, Jones saw all he needed this weekend, according to Blue and Gold’s Andrew Ivins.

“It just felt right to me and my family. I like the tradition, the coaching, the players, it felt right,” Jones told B&G. “I committed to Autry Denson and head coach Brian Kelly at the same time. They’re very excited.”

Jones has started to see his star rise, impressing at an Orlando event last month. Scout.com views him as the top running back in Florida, while he’s a three-star prospect according to Rivals and isn’t ranked by 247 Sports yet.

Jones joins Julian Love and John Shannon as commitments from the weekend, joining Tommy Kraemer to make four commits in the 2016 class.

Here’s a highlight reel from Jones’ junior season.



Junior Day nets commitments from Julian Love, John Shannon


Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class took a big step forward on Saturday, gaining commitments from cornerback Julian Love and long snapper John Shannon. Both Love and Shannon pledged their commitment after receiving offers this afternoon from the Irish staff.

In Love, Notre Dame adds another cornerback to the fold. A state champion last season after leading his Nazareth Academy squad to a 6A Illinois title, an offer from the Irish was all Love needed to chose Notre Dame over early offers from programs like Boston College, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Northwestern.


Love took to Twitter to announce his decision.

In Shannon, the Irish find their replacement for long-snapper Scott Daly. Another Illinois product, Shannon camped at Rubio Long Snapping camp, named the No. 1 long snapper by Rubio’s rankings.

Per Andrew Ivins of Blue & Gold, Shannon is also the grandson of former Irish All-American Dan Shannon, who played in the 1950s. From a program building perspective, Shannon’s entry into the program will allow him to redshirt for a season while Daly plays out his fifth year, a strategic scholarship offer and quick acceptance that will finalize the line-change of specialists with Justin Yoon and Tyler Newsome about to take the field.


Both commits hail from Illinois, with the Irish drawing strongly from their base in the Chicagoland area.

In Love, the Irish seem to be following a similar tactic that they have in recent years, among the first to offer—and land—profile athletes that may not be the most highly-touted recruits at this stage, but recruits that fit what they’re looking for nonetheless.

Love and Shannon join Tommy Kraemer as the three commitments in the 2016 class.

2016 recruiting begins with weekend Junior Day


Notre Dame’s coaching staff begins their 2016 recruiting efforts this weekend with its first on-campus Junior Day. While the reshuffled staff had an opportunity to hit the road in February, the Irish coaches will host their first major recruiting event of the spring this weekend.

At last count, nearly two dozen prospects are invited to campus to see what Notre Dame has to offer. With the weather looking like it’ll cooperate, expect a close look at the Irish practice, as the duo of Mike Elston and Dave Peloquin coordinate the efforts to back up the Irish’s surprising 2015 class with another excellent group.

Notre Dame’s lone commitment, Cincinnati offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer, will be on campus. Here’s a list of some others, with early recruiting rankings supplied by Rivals and Blue & Gold Illustrated.



Junior Day Visitor List
March 21, 2015


Cameron Brown, OLB
Potomac, Maryland

Noah Burks, ILB
Carmel, Indiana

Donnie Corley, WR*
Detroit, Michigan

Damar Hamlin, CB**
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Dwayne Haskins Jr., QB*
Potomac, Maryland

Elijah Holyfield, RB**
Atlanta, Georgia

Naquan Jones, DT
Evanston, Illinois

Tony Jones Jr., RB
Brandenton, Florida

Michael Jordan, OT**
Canton, Michigan

Khalid Kareem, DE**
Farmington Hills, Michigan

Tommy Kraemer, OT*
Cincinnati, Ohio

Julian Love, CB
Westchester, Illinois

Kenny Lyke, S
Hoffman Estates, Illinois

Austin Mack, WR**
Fort Wayne, Indiana

Tylin Oden, QB**
Columbia, Tennessee

Brandon Peters, QB**
Avon, Indiana

Martell Pettaway, RB
Detroit, Michigan

Auston Robertson, DE**
Fort Wayne, Indiana

John Shannon, LS
Wilmette, Illinois

AJ Epenesa, DE (2017)
Edwardsville, Illinois

Brock Wright, TE (2017)
Cypress, Texas

Corey Malone Hatcher, DE (2017
St. Joseph, Michigan

*Signifies Rivals100 ranking. 
**Signifies Rivals250 ranking. 


At this point, take any grading evaluation from the recruiting websites with a very large grain of salt. With the summer circuit of camps and combines still around the corner, all sorts of moving and shaking is still to come on the virtual big boards.

That said, it’s worth looking at the guys who already hold offers that’ll be on campus. Per Irish 247, that includes Haskins, reportedly ND’s top QB on their board and Corley, another prospect the Irish staff covets.

Cornerback Damar Haskins looks like another battle with Penn State, though Notre Dame’s staff has to feel good about their ability to out-duel James Franklin’s group after last recruiting cycle’s poaching of Brandon Wimbush and Josh Barajas.

Fort Wayne prospects Austin Mack and Auston Robertson both have offers from the Irish as well, with Notre Dame looking to make up ground. So does defensive end Khalid Kareem. You’ve got to expect an edge rusher to remain a priority for the Irish staff, especially after adding just Bo Wallace to that group in the last recruiting cycle.

There’s also a ton of interest in adding a running back this cycle even after adding two in the 2015 class. Both Holyfield and Jones are guys with Notre Dame offers as they step foot on campus. Adding the former heavyweight champion of the world to the parents section would be a nice replacement for David Robinson as his days watching Corey run down.


Expect more offers to go out and the recruiting class to grow sooner than later. The past few recruiting cycles, the Irish staff did some damage in March, April and May, building its base as the team went into summer.

The 2013 recruiting class had huge spring months, hitting a dozen commitments before May. Last year’s class had nine commitments by June, though sat at four more than a year before signing day.

While it’s still early to project the size of the 2016 class, any worries about a late start shouldn’t be considered until the summer months. Kelly acknowledged that rebuilding his staff and pushing back the start of spring practice was a necessity, and with the work he did one that he found well worth it.

More news to come this weekend after the first reports from visitors come through.