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Notre Dame expecting big things from receiver TJ Jones

SOUTH BEND IN - SEPTEMBER 08: T.J. Jones #7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates touchdown catch between Ricardo Allen #21

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 08: T.J. Jones #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates a touchdown catch between Ricardo Allen #21 and Landon Feichter #44 of the Purdue Boilermakers at Notre Dame Stadium on September 8, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Purdue 20-17. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Updated: September 10, 2013 6:30AM

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly thinks the Irish have a future first-round draft pick in wide receiver TJ Jones.

A statement like that from a coach might lead some players to feel stress, but Jones takes a different approach.

‘‘It’s not pressure for me; it’s more motivation,’’ Jones, a 5-11, 195-pound senior, said this week. ‘‘If I know that my coaches have that faith in me and that I have that faith in myself, then that’s just going to allow us to better work together for me to push myself harder to attain that goal that he thinks that I can achieve.’’

Jones is Notre Dame’s top
returning receiver. He finished tied with tight end Tyler Eifert for the team lead in catches (50) and
receiving touchdowns (four) in 2012. Eifert is with the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Irish are confident others are ready to fill any void.

‘‘We have a lot of talent; we’re deep,’’ quarterback Tommy Rees said. ‘‘I think TJ has improved in the past three years. I think he can be a great receiver this year. I think he can really step out of the role he’s been in and take on a bigger one.

‘‘[Receivers] DaVaris [Daniels] and Chris Brown are two guys on the outside that both have a tremendous amount of potential. I think we can get the best out of them. And I’m really excited about the young guys.’’

It starts with Jones, who has 111 receptions for 1,321 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first three ­seasons at Notre Dame.

‘‘Sometimes he doesn’t get enough of the accolades,’’ Kelly said last week. ‘‘I think he’s a great receiver.’’

Daniels had 31 catches for 490 yards last season. Brown made two catches for 56 yards. Freshman Corey Robinson enrolled early and went through spring drills. Troy Niklas, Ben Koyack and Alex Welch are among the options at tight end.

Replacing Eifert’s production won’t be easy for the Irish, but Jones drew parallels to losing
receiver Michael Floyd after the 2011 season.

‘‘Learning how to get past that — how to work together as a whole and put all the different parts
together and get everybody
involved in our offense last year — is definitely going to help us to strive this year,’’ he said.

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