Jamir Jones
Rivals / Yahoo Sports!

Irish A-to-Z: Jamir Jones

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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
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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
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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.

 

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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.

It’s official: Notre Dame-Michigan set for 2018, 2019

Michigan v Notre Dame
Getty
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Notre Dame and Michigan will resume their football rivalry, with games set for 2018 and 2019. The universities jointly announced the news, with the Irish hosting the Wolverines on September 1st to open the 2018 season and Notre Dame visiting Ann Arbor on October 26, 2019.

The two winningest programs in college football history will return to battle for the first time since Notre Dame’s 31-0 victory over Michigan in 2014.

“Today is a great day for Notre Dame, Michigan and college football fans across the country,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in the statement. “Shortly after Warde Manuel was hired as Michigan’s athletic director, he and I began working to make this renewal of the series possible. That we could get games on the schedule as soon as ’18 and ’19 required a lot of work by our staffs and some great cooperation by the Big Ten, ACC and other schools that were on our future schedules.

Manuel, a former Michigan football player who took over the athletic director job after a successful run at UConn released the following statement.

“This is a game that holds great significance for the student-athletes and coaches who compete on the field,” Manuel said. “A great deal of credit goes to Coach Harbaugh and Coach Kelly for initiating the discussion of scheduling this series. This rivalry is also important for the fans of both programs, and we look forward to renewing one of college football’s great rivalries.”

Both head coaches also expressed excitement about the addition of a high-profile matchup.

“I’m excited to see Notre Dame and Michigan, two brand-name programs, get back together on the football field,” Kelly said. “Both programs have a long and storied history of success. We’re talking about the two winningest programs in all of college football.

“We’ve wanted to make this happen for quite some time. We wouldn’t be able to make today’s announcement without the work from Jack (Swarbrick) and other members of our administration. This is a win for everyone involved, not just those at either institution, but both fan bases and fans across the entire college football landscape.”

Harbaugh was credited with the following statement.

“The competition between Michigan and Notre Dame has created a fair, healthy and productive rivalry over time, and it brings out the best in both programs,” Harbaugh said. “We look forward to facing Coach Brian Kelly and the Irish in the coming years.”

The contract is a two-game agreement. Both Swarbrick and Manuel will get to work finding a practical solution to keep the rivalry going, while also balancing their other scheduling commitments.

 

Report: Notre Dame-Michigan game could return in 2018

Michigan v Notre Dame
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The series that everyone wants could be back sooner than expected. There’s a report (or tweet) from Sports Illustrated’s Ryan Krasnoo that Michigan and Notre Dame are set to announce the return of their football rivalry, with a date set for 2018.

 

Here are the 140 characters that got everybody excited.

Both Brian Kelly and Jim Harbaugh have been on the record about wanted to get the game back on the schedule. So has Notre Dame’s athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who infamously delivered written notice to former Michigan AD Dave Brandon about the halting of the two schools’ rolling contract, a necessity at the time with Notre Dame’s ACC commitment.

Brandon’s handling of the situation—he claimed to be blindsided—led to some friction between the two athletic departments. But Brandon’s removal from the post, and the subsequent hiring of Warde Manuel, has certainly thawed any iciness.

The need for both programs to add high-profile opponents certainly doesn’t hurt, either. To fit the game into the schedule, Krasnoo reports that Michigan is cutting a game against Arkansas, reportedly willing to eat the $2 million cancellation fee.

There’s no word on the location of the match-up, nor the resumption of a series. Jack Swarbrick has talked publicly about the return of the Shamrock Series in 2018 and also of aspirations of playing an international game in the near future. A season opener against Michigan could be a perfect opportunity.