Jones Looks To Give Instead Of Receive

It's Tai-ler Jones' birthday on July 19th, but on that day, the Scout.com top-100 player from Gainesville (Ga.) High, will be giving a present to one lucky college head coach and his program.

It won't be gift wrapped, but it will be just as good. Tai-ler Jones will announce his verbal commitment.

Earlier this month, the four-star receiver recently trimmed his list of close to 30 scholarship offers, down to 15 schools he's going to give more of his attention. Those programs are Alabama, Auburn, California, Clemson, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

On the flip side, the Notre Dame coaching staff has been giving the 6-foot, 174-pound Jones plenty of attention. Receivers coach Rob Ianello is in touch once every ten days or so.

"First of all, he just checks up on me to see how I'm doing and how my family is," Jones explained. His father Andre played defensive end at Notre Dame from 1987-90, helping the Irish win a National Championship in 1988.

"(Coach Ianello's) message to remember is that going to Notre Dame would be more than just a football scholarship, and I'd become more than just an athlete."

That message holds deep for Jones, and he sees it with his father who is now very successful in the commercial real-estate world.

"With college, it's not a four-year commitment, it's a 40-year commitment," Jones began. "So as well as a college with a football program, I want a college that will set me up for life down the road.

"With Notre Dame, I know there is a for sure life after football, and the degree carries a lot of weight in the business world, and there is a lot of alumni out there, so picking up a job wouldn't be as hard as if I went to another school. And how the coaching staff tells me how I'm going to be used in their scheme, and that they keep in regular touch with me, shows they are real serious about me."

Though Jones is serious about Notre Dame, he says he is also looking hard at the other 14 programs.

"I'm going to try and take an unofficial visit to the schools I haven't seen yet in my top-15, and feel their coaching staff out and their campus, and I was thinking about making a top five in late June or early July, setting up me making my decision on my birthday."

Jones picked up his Notre Dame scholarship offer while on campus for a junior day back in late January. He also visited during the fall for the Michigan game, where his father's National Championship team was being honored. Jones may return again for the spring game on April 18th.

Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis recently sent Jones an email to give him a call sometime next week, when he returns to South Bend from an out-of-town trip.

While the younger Jones looks forward to talking with Weis next week, the older Jones spoke with him last Thursday.

"It was just very warm," Andre Jones said. "It wasn't a coach talking to a Dad, it was just two Notre Dame guys talking. He laid it out there that there is really a chance for T.J. to excel here. He was talking more about the opportunity as a whole for T.J., and not just with Notre Dame.

"He was like as soon as you know who your top five is, you should cut it down so you can focus on really getting to know the people at those five schools. It was just on a whole different level. It wasn't so much football oriented, as it was kind of like a life coach conversation. I appreciated all the words of wisdom he was bringing to the table from his NFL experiences and college experiences that he's had. That insight was something you couldn't pay for.

Though the elder Jones said Weis tried to make the conversation light and not business like, the Irish head coach couldn't help but get in a recruiting dig.

"He really spoke about the opportunities T.J. is looking for, like number one, the school has the academic strengths T.J. is looking for, and number two, the coaching staff and team environment is appropriate to his personality, and number three, the campus life. He said he feels that Notre Dame has the ability to maximize all three of those to T.J.'s benefit."

Jones will certainly benefit any college offense. This past season, Jones caught 81 passes for 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is one of the most elusive receivers in the country, and many college coaches are hoping for an early or late birthday present.


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