SOUTH BEND – There have been times in Jarron Jones' initial 10 months or so on the campus of Notre Dame that he has needed to have a touch of backside motivation – if you will. At 6-foot-5 and a biscuit shy of 300 pounds, it takes a stern voice to have made sure that the youngster was adhering to his responsibilities.
Thank goodness for his mother.
“There is no doubt that his mom has played an essential figure his growth and development,” Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said recently. “We had a couple of stumbles early on in terms of his routine and discipline and academics. One phone call home to Rochester (N.Y.) really got some things done.”
Now Jones is really getting some things done on the football field, as well as the classroom.
“Jarron is going to be a guy that you can't move out of that four technique (defensive end),” Kelly said.
Like most college freshmen, adjusting to college classes, being away from family and following rules, each can provide its challenges to a person regardless of whether they are trying to battle for playing time within a high-major football power or not. Jones was no different.
He brought size and athletic ability to Notre Dame, but after dominating at the smaller Aquinas Institute (enrollment less than 700 students), competing among the nation's best football players proved difficult.
“We think all of these guys that we recruit are going to be really good players for us,” Kelly said. “It's always about when.”
In Jones' case, that potential began to show life this past off-season.
“We felt like he was assimilating to being a Notre Dame student-athlete, we started to feel pretty good about it in February,” Kelly said. “The reports were coming back the way that we wanted to see them.”
Jones didn't play at all last fall. He spent the season maturing physically (gaining 10 pounds from high school) and learning life as a college student-athlete. However, this spring, he's began to get some looks at defensive end behind sophomore-to-be Sheldon Day at the former spot occupied by senior captain Kapron Lewis-Moore.
“We never saw him as a dynamic pass rusher,” Kelly said. “What we saw was a big, strong physical kid with good feet and played with a very good motor. He's going to be a really good player when he gets his opportunity.”
With players like Day, Stephon Tuitt, Ishaq Williams, Justin Utupo and incoming freshman Eddie Vanderdoes, Jones isn't likely to get a lot of time next fall, but he will have a chance to make an impact in selective situations.
“Jarron is not at that spot where he is going to get a lot of opportunities, because we have some pretty good depth there,” Kelly said. “But he's going to be counted on for a handful of plays. We feel confident that he is big and strong enough to help us.”