ND’s TJ Jones looks to keep up pace in second half
By LaMond Pope email@example.com or 713-2691 October 16, 2013 11:24PM
Darqueze Dennard, TJ Jones
Irish picked fifth in ACC hoops
Notre Dame was picked to finish fifth by the media in the ACC Operation Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Poll. Duke topped the poll with 805 points.
Syracuse (753), North Carolina (668), Virginia (612) and the Irish (608) rounded out the top five.
ND’s Jerian Grant was named to the preseason All-ACC team.
C.J. Fair of Syracuse, Virginia’s Joe Harris and Duke’s duo of Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker joined the Notre Dame guard on the list.
— LaMond Pope
Updated: November 18, 2013 8:01AM
SOUTH BEND — 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), receiving yards (481) and 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. It hasn’t slowed him down at practice or in games.
“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.”