Irish land four-star running back
Notre Dame picked up its fourth commitment in the 2016 class and third commitment during the course of Junior Day weekend when four-star running back Tony Jones Jr. made it official with the Irish staff on Sunday morning.
“I knew I wanted to commit about an hour ago,” Jones Jr. said. “When I saw the highlight tape of all the Notre Dame running backs that had made it to the NFL, I knew I wanted to commit.”
“I was in meeting with Coach (Brian) Kelly that lasted about an hour and I told him then,” Jones Jr. said. “He was really excited and he told all the other coaches.”
The Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy standout choose Notre Dame over offers from the likes of Cincinnati, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Miami, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, South Florida and Vanderbilt.
Jones Jr. talked the decision over with his mother before he informed the staff of his intentions.
“Entering the visit she wasn’t so sure that she wanted me to commit because I haven’t really visited a lot of schools and it’s still early,” Jones Jr. said. “But we talked about it this morning and she told me I could. She loved it.”
Jones Jr. (6’1”, 215) said the combination of all that Notre Dame could offer was too irresistible to turn down.
“Notre Dame has a freshman running back coming in this year from Florida, plus Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston,” Jones Jr. said. “But after they (Bryant and Folston) leave, it will just be and the freshman that’s going there next year. Notre Dame runs a two-back system, so I can compete early and that’s important.”
“That factor of playing early, plus all the running backs that get to the league and the connections you make at Notre Dame were why I decided to commit,” Jones Jr. said. “Tradition, coaching staff, and talking to the players. I decided it’s for me.”
Jones Jr. arrived on campus Friday and spent time with Bryant and Folston before going out to dinner with his parents and Irish running backs coach Autry Denson.
“Greg and Tarean were telling me how the transition is from Florida,” Jones Jr. said. “They said it wasn’t hard, but that it wasn’t easy either. The biggest thing is the weather. But when it’s cold we practice inside and they have a lot of gear for us to wear when we walk to class and stuff. In the end, they told me all of that stuff will pay off.”
“Dinner was really good. My parents got a really good feel for Notre Dame then. Coach Denson and Coach (Mike) Denbrock were a big part of my commitment.”
The highlight of the weekend trip for Jones Jr. was taking in a spring practice.
“Practice was my favorite part,” Jones Jr. said. “I really liked the high tempo and how practice wasn’t too long or too short. Everyone had a lot of energy the entire time.”
On Saturday, Jones Jr. spent time with Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer and received a tour of campus.
“Campus was beautiful,” Jones Jr. said. “Touchdown Jesus and the chapel, there is so much tradition.”
Jones, the state of Florida’s No. 1 ranked running back in the class of 2016, believes he will bring a wide array of skills to Notre Dame’s roster.
“I’m versatile and I run the ball downhill,” Jones Jr. said. “I have good speed for my size, I can catch out of the backfield, and I can block.”
Jones is a four-star prospect and is ranked as the No. 12 running back in the class of 2016.