Pick between Notre Dame and USC looms for RB Ronald Jones

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Ronald Jones still needs more time to decide.

With a Friday announcement looming, the four-star running back prospect said Tuesday he had yet to settle on a college choice. The decision will result in a verbal commitment to one of two schools — Notre Dame or USC. It will come during the telecast of Friday’s Under Armour All-America Game.

"It's going to be crazy,” Jones said via phone. “It's going to be a dream come true. I'm blessed to have this opportunity."

The challenge will be finding some free time before Friday to collect his thoughts. With the rest of the week dedicated to preparing for Friday’s game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Jones guessed that he will have one last conversation with his mother on Thursday to help finalize a decision.

“She wants me to make my own decision,” Jones said.  “She will tell me what she likes and what she doesn't like, but she knows it's going to be my decision.”

Jones and his mother made official visits to USC and Notre Dame in the last two weekends before the NCAA recruiting dead period started in mid-December. Following those trips, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Jones backed out of his verbal commitment to Oklahoma State.

“It seemed that the offense wasn't producing like I thought it would,” Jones said of the Cowboys. “It was kind of a disappointment. So I felt like there might be a better fit overall for me."

Hesitation with his Oklahoma State commitment led Jones to visit both USC and Notre Dame. The four-star recruit is still working on identifying what separates the two.

"The tradition, academics and elite football are all things I like,” Jones said. “I just have to figure out which is the better offensive scheme for me. I'm really torn between the two. It's about 50-50 right now.”

Jones spoke highly of his trip to Notre Dame, which started with the football team’s awards show on Dec. 12.

"It was great,” he said. “I loved everything from Touchdown Jesus to the Basilica to Notre Dame Stadium. It was amazing."

Irish running backs coach Tony Alford has been trying to add a second running back to Notre Dame’s recruiting class since Josh Adams gave his pledge in June. Jones, who rushed for 2,009 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior at McKinney (Texas) North, would qualify as a solid fit. Rivals ranks Jones as the No. 9 running back in the class. 247Sports slates him No. 19 at the position.

"I have a great relationship with coach Alford,” Jones said. “He's very passionate about the game. I like that he's able to break the plays down and make it real simple for me to understand.”

Highlights of Notre Dame’s 31-28 win over LSU could serve as one last recruiting pitch for Jones. The Irish rushed for 263 yards and three touchdowns against a stout SEC defense.

"The o-line is very stable. They're strong,” Jones said. “I like the fact that they are independent of a conference. I'll get plenty of exposure there."

The beginning of Jones’ collegiate career will come with the end of his recruitment Friday on a national stage. Then he’ll take his turn trying to avoid some of the country’s top defenders on the field.

"Being a running back, you can't hesitate,” Jones said. “You have to hit the holes as fast as you can so you don't get hit.”’

It’s a similar decisiveness that he’ll need this week to pick between the Irish and the Trojans. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Four-star running back Ronald Jones will make a commitment to Notre Dame or USC at Friday's Under Armour All-America Game. (Photo courtesy of INTERSPORT/DANIEL FAIRS)