Receiver TJ Jones keeps Notre Dame in good hands
BY LAMOND POPE Staff Reporter October 16, 2013 10:19PM
Updated: October 16, 2013 10:30PM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Arizona State had just trimmed Notre Dame’s lead to three points.
Eleven seconds were left in the Oct. 5 Shamrock Series contest in Arlington, Texas, as the Sun Devils attempted an onside kick.
Notre Dame’s TJ Jones corralled the ball to preserve the 37-34 victory.
Of course, Jones made the play.
After all, the senior was one of the more dependable players for the Irish during the first half of the season, especially at his natural position of wide receiver.
His second-half goal is simple — continue to do whatever is necessary for the Irish.
“I’m always trying to get better in my route running, being a physical receiver,” Jones said Wednesday, “and really becoming that guy that makes all the clutch plays, that the offense looks to when that play needs to be made, they can trust on myself, a senior captain, to make that play and not let us down.”
Jones did just that in the first six games. He leads the Irish in catches (33) and receiving yards (481), and he is tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions (four).
“He’s a guy that has grown and developed, and a lot of it has been on his want and desire to be the best wide receiver in the country,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “He is an extremely motivated young man.”
Jones had 135 yards and one touchdown against Arizona State. It was his second 100-yard performance of the year (138 yards against Temple). He has a touchdown catch in each of the last three games.
Kelly said Jones has done it while fighting through various bumps and bruises.
“He’s in practice. He’s on the ground diving and making catches. He’s on the ground more in practice than any of our young freshmen because he’s competing all the time,” Kelly said.
“These are the marks of great players. Every great player that I’ve had practices that way. He has developed that over his time here at Notre Dame.”