Notre Dame football recruiting: Jones puts Irish in his final four
ADDISON, Ill. – Jamarco Jones could only watch from the side with his left arm in a sling.
But the junior offensive lineman from Chicago De La Salle still came out to the Nike Football Training Camp in the Chicago suburb of Addison on Sunday. Even though he’s nursing a left shoulder injury, he had a teammate to support, quarterback Shelby Spence, and also had an announcement to make after watching the offensive linemen work their way through three hours of coaching.
The 6-foot-5, 285-pound prospect named his final four schools: Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State. He will now visit each of those schools one more time and has set a decision date of June 27.
“I’m going to go back to each one and try to get a gut feeling for which one I think fits me best,” Jones said.
Despite narrowing his focus to the Midwest, Jones has options all across the country. The four-star prospect rated as the No. 5 offensive tackle by 247Sports.com and No. 15 by Rivals.com has Florida, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and UCLA included on a list of more than two dozen offers. Eliminating those schools was a tough process.
“It was quite a few (that were tough decisions), like the SEC schools — Florida, I was going to visit them — with the great competition down there, but I kinda want stay close to home and give my family a chance to come see me play,” Jones said. “And then Wisconsin, they're also a great program. I've been up there a couple times. I got to meet the new coaching staff. I really like them a lot.”
Jones is no stranger to Notre Dame. He recently visited campus on April 3 for a spring practice and will return again in June for a final look.
“They were in the national championship game last year so I know they're going to be really competitive again this year,” Jones said. “Coach (Brian) Kelly's a great coach. They're a great program — the tradition and the academics to go along with it.’’
On his last visit to ND, Jones spent most of the practice watching offensive line coach Harry Hiestand lead his unit.
"I got to see his coaching style and how he works with the players,” Jones said,, “which was a great thing to see. You want know how a coach interacts with his players."
The Irish coaching staff has received a little help in recruiting Jones as of late, with a few Notre Dame commits, including Chicago tight end Nic Weishar and Charlotte, N.C., running back Elijah Hood, reaching out to the offensive tackle.
"I think recruits doing some recruiting now, it's a huge part of the process,” Jones said. “You want to get to know the people that you're going to be with for the next four years. So you want to know what type of people you're going to be around — how competitive they are, what their goals are, stuff like that — because you want to be around people that are similar to you.”
The offensive line classes for programs like Notre Dame and Michigan are already filling up, but Jones said that won’t affect his decision. The Irish already have three commits – projected guards Sam Mustipher and Jimmy Byrne and projected tackle Quenton Nelson – and will likely take another tackle and possibly a fifth if it’s an elite prospect.
“They've told me the situation that they're in. If they fill up before, that would be unfortunate because I like them,” Jones said. “It's a part of the process. It's not really going to speed up or change anything. I would just have to look at the other schools more.”
The camp staff awarded MVPs for each position group on Sunday.
The following were identified as standouts: defensive lineman Anthony Love from Romeoville, Ill.; Michigan State offensive line commit Brian Allen from Hinsdale, Ill.; linebacker Nyles Morgan from Crete, Ill. (ND offer); defensive back Wilbert Jones from East St. Louis, Ill.; quarterback Kyle Allen from Scottsdale, Ariz. (ND offer); and Minnesota running back commit Jeff Jones from Minneapolis.
Also, seven invites to the national Nike camp, The Opening, were extended to Sunday camp-goers: Allen, Morgan, Jones, Michigan wide receiver commit Drake Harris of Grand Rapids, Mich., Iowa State wide receiver commit Allen Lazard from Urbandale, Iowa, Michigan State defensive line commit Enoch Smith Jr. from Chicago, and wide receiver Braxton Berrios from Raleigh, N.C.
Staff writer Tyler James: