Notre Dame hosted just one official visitor over the weekend, but it was an important one.
Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge linebacker Jonathan Jones, a priority at the position for the Irish, made the trip to Notre Dame with his father for the first time.
“This was a good one,” Jones said. “It was a great official visit. I was definitely happy with everything, Notre Dame surpassed all expectations.”
Jones toured campus and spoke with Notre Dame administration and faculty on Friday.
“We got a huge campus tour and met with the coaches,” Jones said. “I talked with some people in administration that were asking me questions and figuring out what kind of person I was. I also talked to a business professor. He was really helpful and answered all of my questions about the business school.”
Jones and his father had dinner that evening with members of the Notre Dame staff.
“I hung out with my host on Friday, Asmar Bilal, who is a really cool dude once he opens up,” Jones said. “I went out to Bonefish Grill with him and some of the recruiting assistants and the recruiting coordinator (Mike Elston).”
Jones learned more about Notre Dame’s business program and spoke with Brian Kelly prior to kickoff on Saturday.
“I got to learn more about the business side of things and the education that Notre Dame has on Saturday,” Jones said. “I also got to talk with coach Kelly on game day. He told me about himself and about the program. He told me I’m a good fit and they really want me there.
“They like me as a Will linebacker in the middle. It’s a really versatile position. I can definitely see myself playing it.”
After experiencing Notre Dame’s blowout of UMass, Jones spent time with a handful of Irish players on Saturday night.
“The game was great, I loved the atmosphere,” Jones said. “I didn’t know every one of their games was sold out, so that was really cool. I liked the tradition of everything.
Irish assistant Autry Denson heads Notre Dame’s recruitment of Jones.
“I talked to coach (Brian) VanGorder, coach Elston and coach (Autry) Denson before I left,” Jones said. “I have been talking with coach Denson for a long time, so we were just talking about life.”
Notre Dame has suffered an uncommon number of injuries this season, and that’s a fact Jones discussed with the staff.
“They said it was just freak accidents,” Jones said. “If you take a look back at their track records, this is just a unique year because this doesn’t normally happen. It’s just always the next man up. The guys that are injured aren’t secluded from the team, they still participate in meetings and go to practice. They even put them in roles that help the players that are playing in their place.”
Notre Dame trailed Michigan entering the weekend.
Not any more.
“Notre Dame sort of leveled out with everyone,” Jones said. “They’re all on the same pedestal. I’m going into each official visit clear-headed and thinking about what each one can offer me.”
Jones admitted the thought of committing while on campus crossed his mind.
“It was a little tempting,” Jones said. “It’s Notre Dame. All the schools I’m considering can set me up, but Notre Dame really can set me up for life. It wasn’t enough to pull the trigger because I still want to take my visits.”