Former Arkansas OL commit Luke Jones flips to Notre Dame

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

On the NCAA's early signing day last week, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly made it clear the Irish were in the market for more offensive linemen to round out their 2018 class.

"I think defensive back is still in play for us, offensive line is still in play and then best player available," Kelly said on Dec. 20, when asked to outline his remaining wish list. 

On Wednesday, that list got a little lighter.

Luke Jones — a 6-foot-6, 285-pound offensive lineman and former Arkansas commit — announced on Twitter his verbal pledge to Notre Dame.

"After a lot of praying and thinking I have decided that at this time it is in my best interest to commit to the University of Notre Dame!" Jones tweeted. "I'm very excited to enroll there as a student-athlete and I will be signing with Notre Dame on Feb. 7.

"I will always love Arkansas and I hope that everyone here will respect my decision with this next stage of my life."

Jones — a consensus three-star recruit, who took his official visit to South Bend for the Echoes awards banquet on the weekend of Dec. 8 — joins offensive linemen John Dirksen and Cole Mabry in Notre Dame's 2018 class, which now stands at 22 commits and 21 signees.

Jones also took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame for the 49-14 victory over rival USC on Oct. 21.

The Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Academy standout chose the Irish over the likes of Arkansas, Arizona State, Iowa State, Missouri, Oregon, Virginia and more.

More impressively, Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand won a tug of war with Arkansas for an in-state target.

"It's almost impossible (to pull a player out of Arkansas), except for a coaching change," CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. "That's what did it. He would have stayed if Bret (Bielema) was there, but with the coaching change, that's the best way to get him."

But what exactly is Notre Dame getting?

"He's a good player," Lemming said. "Good, solid three-plus (star) guy. I don't know if he's a four-star offensive lineman, but he's close. He's got really good feet. He's a powerhouse type of a kid. He's probably better suited for guard than tackle."

Jones is ranked as a three-star prospect and the No. 34 offensive tackle in the 2018 class by 247Sports, as well as a three-star recruit and the No. 45 offensive tackle by Rivals.

As for on-field production, he recently capped an undefeated season with a fourth consecutive state championship for Pulaski Academy. The offense averaged 571.3 yards and 47.6 points per game in its 14 wins.

But, though Jones is now in the fold, Notre Dame is still hoping to make another offensive line splash on national signing day.

Hiestand's most coveted remaining target is 6-6, 260-pound offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere, who is ranked as a five-star recruit and the No. 5 overall player in the 2018 class by 247Sports, as well as a four-star prospect and the No. 67 overall player by Rivals.

Petit-Frere — a Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep standout — will choose between the likes of Notre Dame, Alabama, Auburn, Michigan, Florida, Ohio State and many more.

With consensus All-American left tackle Mike McGlinchey and unanimous All-American left guard Quenton Nelson concluding their college careers with No. 14 Notre Dame's Citrus Bowl date against No. 16 LSU on Monday, Notre Dame is certainly in the market for reinforcements along the offensive line.

Luckily for the Irish, help is on the way.

☘️☘️☘️ pic.twitter.com/eFjdN4KVCH

— luke jones (@Luke__jones26) December 27, 2017

Offensive linemen Luke Jones (left) and Nicholas Petit-Frere, 2018 recruits, walk around campus before the University of Southern California at Notre Dame football game. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)