GURNEE, Ill. - Micah Jones realized he’d always known how the recruiting process would end.
Honestly, Jones probably had an inkling the moment Notre Dame put a scholarship on the table. Former wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock offered less than a week after watching Jones work out last summer at Irish Invasion. It was the opportunity Jones coveted.
So when Jones formally ended his recruitment on Friday afternoon by announcing for the Irish, few were surprised at the outcome, least of all the 6-foot-5, 195-pound wide receiver.
“I kinda always knew,” Jones said. “Ever since they offered me I was in tight contact with all the coaches there and all the players, all the 2018 guys. On top of that, John Shannon, the long snapper that went to Loyola, we were always in contact.”
Other programs gave Jones reason to think.
Northwestern and Michigan State posed a threat to Notre Dame during the last several months. Jones stayed overnight in Evanston recently, a testament to his seriousness about the closest major college program to his home.
“The only (other) people I really considered in the end was Northwestern, Ole Miss and Michigan State,” Jones said. “Those are all great institutions, as well as Nebraska. They were great institutions that I really looked at. I thought it out and prayed on it overnight. I figured out that Notre Dame was the place for me.”
Michigan State had its own overnight visit on the docket for later this month. But a trip to South Bend in between proved a seminal moment for Jones, who stayed for a couple days last weekend.
Jones used the Junior Day visit to Notre Dame as a test for his fit with the program. He spent time with players on the current roster and, perhaps more importantly, a group of current and soon-to-be verbal commitments.
What did he see? A lot of guys just like himself.
“They were a lot like me,” Jones said. “I really didn’t differ from a different guy. We all wanna work but at the same time we have social lives. When it comes down to getting down to work, they’re there. But when they’re social, they’re social. That’s really what I need in my life. I need that balance in my life and I think that’s what Notre Dame really offered.”
Coming out of the visit, other commitments noted how well Jones fit into the mix.
Turns out Jones felt the same by the time he started to make the two-and-a-half hour drive back to the Chicago suburbs. And then reality set in. Whether Jones realized it or not, Notre Dame had always been the destination.
No matter the 4-8 season that came and went after the Irish offered. Never mind Denbrock leaving for another job, meaning Jones needed to connect with new coaches.
None of those things factored, in the end. Notre Dame drew Jones in from the beginning.
“You really don’t ever look at a school for a coach,” Jones said. “You look at a school for what it can offer you in academics and things like that. Just having coach Denbrock leave was kinda disheartening, but on the same note it was still a great school for me. I’ve loved it ever since I got offered. I never really faltered in my decision. I really loved Notre Dame the whole way.”