Though the news broke almost a month ago, Notre Dame made official the addition of former Buffalo associate head coach Ernest Jones to the football program. As expected, Jones won’t be working on the field with the Irish, but has taken the official title of director of player development and engagement.
Here’s more from the official release on what Jones will be tasked with:
Jones will be responsible for helping develop the Fighting Irish football players in three of the five core areas Kelly uses to develop complete student-athletes: intellectual development, social development and spiritual development (the coaching staff is charged with skill development and the strength and conditioning staff is responsible for physical development).
Jones will act as a liaison between the football players and coaching staff plus serve as primary contact between both the student welfare and development office and academic services for student-athletes department.
Jones is a graduate of Alcorn State and spent a season as their head coach in 2008. He worked under Kelly from 2005-07, coaching at both Cincinnati and Central Michigan. He rejoined Kelly in 2009 as the director of player services at Cincinnati, working in both academic services and community outreach.
Jones left Jeff Quinn’s Buffalo program, where he coordinated the recruiting efforts of the Bulls to rejoin Kelly. He has coached cornerbacks and running backs as a position coach under Kelly and will likely take a role on the field when a job opens in the future.
Brian Kelly spent the morning addressing the staff changes that await the next edition of the Fighting Irish football team. But it appears there’s one more move on the horizon, though it hasn’t been made official by Notre Dame. As reported by the Buffalo News’ Rodney McKissic, associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Ernest Jones is leaving Jeff Quinn‘s Buffalo coaching staff for a yet to be named position at Notre Dame.
The move will reunite Kelly with Jones, who worked under the Irish head coach at both Cincinnati and Central Michigan. With the Irish on-the-field staff filled, Jones is taking a position in the football office, where he’ll likely help the Irish in their recruiting efforts, until a staff spot opens up. Jones made a similar move to Cincinnati, joining Kelly after a stint as the head coach of Alcorn State, where he was fired one year into his three-year contract.
Even if he’s unable to work on the field, Jones brings a wealth of knowledge to the coaching staff and potentially a trump card in recruiting. As Quinn’s associate head coach, Jones headed up the Bulls’ recruiting efforts, putting together an unprecedented class as the Bulls signed 19 commitments under Jones’ guidance, having a recruiting staff all but set in December, when in years past the Bulls scrambled until well after Signing Day.
Jones declined to comment when reached by the Buffalo News, but the deal is reportedly signed and his home is on the market in the Buffalo area. It’s also rumored that the move wasn’t all that well received by Quinn, who’s losing his recruiting coordinator, cornerbacks coach and associate head coach to a non-coaching position with the Irish — the second defection to the Bulls staff this offseason.
If you’re looking to read between the lines here, the current offseason might have taught Kelly a thing or two about the desirability of coaches at high-profile schools like Notre Dame. Losing Ed Warinner and Tim Hinton, and having a brief scare with Tony Alford’s interview with the Green Bay Packers, Kelly is creating a contingency plan for the next assistant out the door, with coaches like Bob Diaco, Chuck Martin, Mike Elston and Kerry Cooks on the radar at major programs everywhere.