Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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42 APRIL 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY COREY BODDEN A major week on the recruiting trail for Notre Dame was capped off in impressive fashion Feb. 17, when Gurnee (Ill.) Warren Township wide receiver Micah Jones announced his pledge to the Irish during a ceremony at his high school. Jones committed to the Irish just days after Detroit Cass Tech corner- back Kalon Gervin (Feb. 13), Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter safety Derrik Allen (Feb. 13) and Brentwood (Tenn.) High of- fensive lineman Cole Mabry (Feb. 14). "Notre Dame was a great choice for me because of everything you can get out of the university," said Jones, who is ranked as the top prospect in Illinois by Rivals. "Whether you are playing football or going on to the business world, either way you are getting the best of both worlds. "I knew they were the one since they offered [after the Irish Invasion last summer]. I loved the campus and loved the coaching staff. I also felt like I meshed with the players well, which was of high importance on my list." The 6-5, 196-pound Jones selected the Irish over Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan State, Iowa, Ole Miss and Nebraska. Notre Dame might have been his top choice for some time, but it did not make committing any easier. "It was a difficult decision," Jones said. "I had so many coaches that I re- spected and loved as not only coaches but as people, too. It was hard to tell them that I won't be able to see them and talk to them every day at football practice in the future." Jones originally planned to make his decision in April, but he moved the timeline up following his visit to Notre Dame for the program's Junior Day Feb. 11. It was his third trip to Notre Dame in nine months, after he visited Oct. 15 when the Irish hosted Stanford to follow up his Irish Inva- sion visit in June. The decision to move his announce- ment up made his pick seem obvious. Being back on campus reminded him why Notre Dame was always where he wanted to be. "I love the campus. It's a beauti- ful place I can see myself living on," he noted. "It's a great institution as a whole, and even better football. You can't go wrong. "Also, it is very close to home so my parents and friends can come watch me play. That is huge." For Jones, the one concern was that the offensive coaches and system he first got to know had changed. Notre Dame had to sell him on how he would fit in the new scheme. Offen- sive coordinator Chip Long was able to show Jones how he would be used. "I love the offense he is running," Jones said. "He utilizes his playmak- ers great. He creates a lot of one-on- one matchups. It was great to see how he works his offense." Jones also took notice of how much football means to the university and its followers during his visits to the campus. "All the fans love and breathe Notre Dame football," he stated. "The football stadium is in the center of campus, and everything is centered around football. "You're going to be on NBC every game, and it's going to be a prime time game every time you step on the field. That's one thing you look for as well in a university." Long and the Irish coaching staff were not the only ones trying to per- suade Jones to make his decision. Over the last several months, Jones was a player that previous Irish com- mits mentioned as someone they were actively recruiting. Their efforts paid off in the long run. "I already fit in with them," Jones said of committed players such as quarterback Phil Jurkovec and run- ning back Markese Stepp. "I already feel like brothers with them, and together we will build a great 2018 class." Jones, the No. 29 wide receiver and No. 174 overall prospect in the country according to Rivals, became commitment No. 10 for the Irish and provides Jurkovec a tall weapon to work with when they arrive in South Bend. ❏ FILM ANALYSIS Strengths Size is the first thing that jumps out when watching Micah Jones play the receiver position; he's every bit of 6-5 and he has the frame to get to at least 215 pounds … Has long arms, which give him a wide catching radius and help him be a good bad-ball pass catcher … Is an elite pass catcher that has soft hands and excellent focus when the ball is in the air … Has good physical skills as well; is light on his feet and shows good foot agility for such a big player … Possesses loose hips and excellent body control, traits that add to his ability to react to and catch off-target throws … Shows a good feel as a route run- ner; he knows how to work himself open and he displays good footwork getting into and out of breaks. Areas For Improvement Like all young receivers, he must continue to improve upon his route techniques, like tightening up his pre-snap stance, and using leverage and angles better on his release … Also has to work on improving his burst off the line and building up his speed. — Bryan Driskell COMMITMENT PROFILE MICAH JONES "I KNEW THEY WERE THE ONE SINCE THEY OFFERED [AFTER THE IRISH INVASION LAST SUMMER]. I LOVED THE CAMPUS AND LOVED THE COACHING STAFF. I ALSO FELT LIKE I MESHED WITH THE PLAYERS WELL, WHICH WAS OF HIGH IMPORTANCE ON MY LIST." JONES Illinois Pass Catcher Always Knew It Would Be Notre Dame Jones is listed by Rivals as a four-star recruit, the No. 1 player in Illinois, and the No. 29 wide receiver and No. 174 overall prospect nationally. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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