One of the key recruiting objectives in the 2016 cycle was to continue to restock the running back depth chart. In Tony Jones Jr., Notre Dame’s staff found a big piece—literally.
At 220 pounds, Jones could be the type of big-bodied power back that gives the Irish offense another runner who can win between the tackles as well as hurt opponents down field.
Even with Josh Adams and Dexter Williams establishing themselves as true freshmen, we’ve seen how quickly a depth chart can empty out at running back. Jones is a key addition at a position that can never have too much talent.
TONY JONES JR.
5’10”, 220 lbs.
A four-star prospect, Jones played in the U.S. Army All-American game and was invited to The Opening. Had offers from Florida, Miami, Ole Miss and South Carolina. Also plans to play baseball at Notre Dame.
Searching for a running back who can move the pile (and the chains), Jones was the “thunder” of a two-back class, signing along with fellow Floridian Deon McIntosh. Even with reps during his senior season limited by injury, it’s easy to see what type of powerful, north and south runner the Irish are getting. (Jones’ best run of the season came on a 59-yard touchdown against Rahshaun Gary’s Paramus Catholic squad in a showdown between nationally-ranked teams.)
Brian Kelly hasn’t had a big back since Robert Hughes lumbered through opponents, whose high-water mark included carrying the load against USC as Notre Dame erased a long Trojans winning streak. Jones has more speed than Hughes, reminding me of a more-heralded Cam Roberson, a power back who never got a chance after a major knee injury ended his career in practice.
Jones was an early target and early commitment (he pledged in March, nearly a year before Signing Day). That says quite a bit about what the Irish staff sees in him.
Find me some snaps for Jones and you’ll have a depth chart ravaged by injury. With Tarean Folston, Josh Adams and Dexter Williams, Notre Dame’s three-deep is all but set, making a redshirt the right decision if all goes even somewhat according to plan.
But Jones has all the skills Notre Dame’s staff wanted in a back in this recruiting cycle. He’s capable of running with power between the tackles and has enough speed to attack the outside and break big plays down field. Throw in a nice set of hands and a willingness to block and Jones has a nice future ahead of him.
2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Torii Hunter Jr.