Film Study: Notre Dame RB commit Tony Jones Jr.

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

RB commit Tony Jones Jr., 6-0, 210; Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy.

The numbers: Jones rushed for 771 yards and 12 touchdowns on just 66 carries as a junior at IMG Academy. He caught just two passes for 31 yards and one touchdown. The Ascenders finished the season with a 10-1 record.

The rankings: 247Sports — Four stars, No. 12 running back. Rivals — Three stars, No. 29 running back.


First impression: Jones is a downhill runner who knows how to find the end zone. His vision on the move allows him to pick apart a defense to get as many yards as possible. He makes his mark running between the tackles.

Strengths: Jones doesn’t mess around with the ball in his hands. He repeatedly makes an effort to get upfield and make the most of his carries. His discipline to run between the tackles and take what the defense is giving him is outstanding for a running back splitting carries with two other players. He didn’t record more than 11 carries in any game, but he doesn’t try to turn his runs into big plays. He simply gets the job done by eating up yards. He appears to be well-trained on reading blocks and hitting holes hard. He won’t run away from fast defenders, but he will find a way to get into the open field and make the secondary track him down. Jones even displays a willingness to block with another back getting the ball.

He did what? (:05) The first highlight illustrates Jones’ ability to work his way through the middle of a defense. He avoids one defensive lineman in the backfield, jukes past a safety in hole and heads straight to the end zone. He gets upfield in such a straight line that he’s able to outrun the defenders. … (1:38) Jones levels a linebacker trying to bring him down near the goal line. He lowers his shoulder and lifts the defender off his feet with his power and leverage. His hunger for the end zone is clear. … (3:05) Even on a simple run to the outside Jones manages to force some contact. Jones sidesteps a defender diving at his legs and lowers his shoulder against a linebacker who has him pinned to the sideline. He doesn’t go to the ground but steps out of bounds as a result of the hit.

Competition level: Few teams take the field with more talent than IMG Academy. The Ascenders choose to challenge themselves with a tough schedule. Victories against St. Peter’s Prep, led by Irish quarterback signee Brandon Wimbush, and eventual Florida 3A state champion Trinity Christian count as the most impressive. Both teams were littered with Division I talent. The only loss of the season came to St. John’s, one of the best teams in Washington, D.C.

Left to prove: Jones has shown his ability to work in an offense with a crowded backfield, but an expanded role as a senior could help develop his game. Only twice did he carry the ball more than eight times in a game. How will he respond to being a leading rusher? He caught just two passes last season. Is that a product of IMG’s offense or his skill set? Developing good hands and slightly better speed could make Jones into a very dangerous weapon in the backfield. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame running back commit Tony Jones Jr. scored 13 touchdowns as a junior at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)