Academic focus leads LB Jonathan Jones to schedule Notre Dame visit

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

For most of Jonathan Jones’ childhood, basketball trumped football.

It wasn’t until 2012 that Jones, now a coveted 2016 linebacker recruit, started seriously paying attention to college football. That same year, Manti Te’o led Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season and a spot in the BCS National Championship game.

So when the former Irish linebacker spoke to recruits last week at The Opening Final in Beaverton, Ore., Jones made sure to pay attention.

“He was talking about bettering yourself and getting your parents that new house,” Jones said. “Looking back to where you’re from and trying to get out of that situation … It’s that motivation to make it.”

Jones, a 6-foot-1, 209-pound rising senior at Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge, knows that professional football isn’t the only way to accomplish his goals.

“Education is the key,” Jones said. “After football, that’s where it is. Honestly, I’m not looking at the NFL. If it’s an option, I’ll definitely go for it, but you can’t win if you don’t have that education.”

That’s in part why Jones already has scheduled an official visit to Notre Dame for its Sept. 26 home game against Massachusetts. Jones will also use official visits to Michigan, Duke, Stanford and Oklahoma.

Despite calling Orlando home, Jones has no reservations about leaving the Sunshine State for college.

“I like to travel,” Jones said. “I like to get far away to be honest with you. You just want to get out and explore the world.”

Both Notre Dame running backs coach Autry Denson and Irish offensive line commit Parker Boudreaux have been trying to convince Jones that South Bend is the place for him.

Denson is Notre Dame’s lead recruiter in Florida.

“He’s told me some real wise things through our relationship,” Jones said. “I can talk to him about anything. He’s a great guy.”

Boudreaux, also from Orlando, kept the buzz going last week while both were at Nike World Headquarters for the camp.

“Every time he comes up to me, he’s in my ear,” Jones said. “He’s just like, ‘Commit. What? You want to commit? You’re committing, right?’ I was like, ‘Bro, chill.’ He’s been on me heavy. I totally respect it. Before he committed I was real cool with him. He’s definitely been in my ear heavy.”

247Sports slates Jones as a four-star prospect and the No. 21 outside linebacker in the 2016 class. Rivals rates him as a three-star recruit and the No. 16 inside linebacker.

Jones would likely fit in Notre Dame’s defense as an inside linebacker, but he said he said scheme will have no impact on his college decision. That certainly falls in line with Notre Dame’s 2015 motto, as tweeted by Brian Kelly, “Culture beats scheme.”

Jones will get a better understanding of how Notre Dame suits him when he visits in September.

“They have a lot of opportunities,” Jones said, “for you to better yourself and better your game.”

Below are junior highlights of Jones via Hudl.

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame linebacker signee Jonathan Jones will have to prove himself on the collegiate level this fall. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)