For years, Notre Dame struggled to land elite defensive linemen. With Brian Kelly in charge, the Irish can’t miss.
Monday night, Kelly reeled in another mega-defensive line recruit, with 6-foot-7, 310-pound defensive lineman Jarron Jones from Rochester, New York pledging his commitment to the Irish, adding another jumbo-sized, blue-chip defensive lineman to a rapidly filling stable.
Jones commitment comes just a few short weeks after the Irish asked four-star defensive lineman Tommy Schutt to cancel a visit to South Bend, content on leaving a blue-chip prospect out in the cold that in years past would have been a can’t miss, must-land Chicagoland recruit. Understandably, a faction of ND Nation flipped out, no doubt remembering an uneven past when it comes to tracking down top defensive prospects.
From Shaun Cody to Marvin Austin to Gerald McCoy, the list of runner-up finishes in recent Irish memory are a who’s who of former collegiate standouts and players that would’ve helped solidify an Irish defense that always seemed to come up short when it came to the battles in the trenches.
But as Kelly stood in front of the assembled media announcing his first recruiting class, a group mostly built by the previous regime, he made it known that the position that had plagued the Irish for years would become the focus of his coaching staff.
“I think the area as we continue to move forward, we have to continue to build our defensive line pool, especially at the end position,” Kelly said back in February of 2010. “That is going to be absolutely crucial for us moving forward next year and looking at 2011.
“We feel like we’re set inside. There’s a number of players that are going to be able to help us on the inside. We’ve got to get bigger and stronger on the edge of our defense, more athletic on the edge of our defense. I think those are two absolutely crucial needs for us moving forward after this class.”
Kelly called his shot, landing guys like Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt as immediate contributors at defensive end while also bringing in guys like Tony Springmann, Troy Niklas, Ben Councell, Chase Hounshell and Ishaq Williams in last years class alone. This year he’s added Jones, four-star DT Sheldon Day and outside linebacker Romeo Okwara.
Jones compares favorably to just about every one of the above recruits, with offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, and a previous commitment to Penn State just a few of the schols Jones had at his choosing. He’s a Top 100 player by any measurement, and depending on the website might be a top twenty player in the country, rarefied air for the Irish football program.
Pete Sampson of IrishIllustrated.com got a wonderful quote out of Jones, explaining what drew him to the Irish.
“I really feel like the coaches at Notre Dame are younger, more energetic like my high school coaches, more hands on and that’s really what I need,” Jones told Sampson. “This morning I just thought it was right. I just really felt like I’ll be more successful at Notre Dame than at Penn State or any other college.”
Jones is the fourteenth commitment to the Irish recruiting class, joining Tee Shepard, Deontay Greenberry and Ronald Darby as Irish commitments that are listed in Rivals’ newest top 100.