Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2018

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 19 of 55

20 SEPT. 10, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED comes an eventual part of a football player 's dossier, but for fifth-year senior Notre Dame defensive tackle Jonathan Bonner it was taken to an extreme level on the physical and mental side as a 2017 senior. From the physical aspect, Bonner broke his wrist late in the 2016 cam- paign while trying to earn playing time on a team that had dreadfully derailed to a 4-8 record. However, initial X-rays did not re- veal the fracture, so Bonner labored through the 2017 spring and August drills with the hope that he could secure a starting spot along the de- fensive interior following the depar- ture of 2016 starters Isaac Rochell and Jarron Jones. "I was in the trainers' room getting treatment and just told the coaches, 'Yeah, I'm better,'" Bonner recalled, fearing that if he did not practice he would lose his opportunity. "I fought through it every day." After winning the spot as the starting three-technique, the 6-4, 291-pound Bonner suffered an elbow injury early in the year that the medi- cal staff wanted X-rayed. It resulted in a "good news and bad news" rev- elation. "They said, 'Your elbow is fine. But that wrist you were telling us about — there is an issue there,'" Bonner said of the newly discovered fracture. A cast was placed on his right wrist, which put Bonner more into a damage-control mode at his position. Bonner's final stats weren't glittering (30 tackles, 3.5 stops for loss and two sacks), but his strength, technique and sheer will helped open lanes for the linebackers, who were the top four tacklers on the team, a first in school history. Bonner 's 512 snaps, or about 40 per game, were the third most on the team among the defensive linemen, behind Jerry Tillery's 702 and end Daelin Hayes' 544. "He plays his heart out, and he plays so hard you don't even really notice it," fifth-year senior offensive guard and team captain Alex Bars said. "I knew something was up, but I didn't really ask about it. … He never brought it up as an excuse for anything." A DIFFERENT BATTLE In addition to a fractured wrist, by mid-season Bonner also was playing with a heavy heart, which was the mental aspect he had to overcome. His mother, Consuelo Hampton, his inspiration throughout his young life who already had beaten breast can- cer twice, had been diagnosed with uterine (endometrial) cancer that would eventually lead to surgery in February 2018. Bonner kept plugging through the season, but also had decided it was time to leave football and not return for his fifth year of eligibility in 2018. He received his degree in informa- tion technology management in De- cember, and was a regular in Notre Dame's Career Placement Services office. He was looking to latch on with specific companies in Chicago to be not far from his mother 's home in Missouri, and also was pondering a potential opportunity with Under Armour. Yet when decision time came over the Christmas break, Bonner 's mother encouraged him to continue his time at Notre Dame, and by the start of the winter semester in Janu- ary he relented to her wishes. At one point, defensive line coach Mike Elston braced himself at the thought of losing both Bonner and Tillery, who had submitted his name for evaluation in the 2018 NFL Draft. Tillery announced he was coming Bonner made the switch from three-technique to nose tackle this spring, and defensive line coach Mike Elston believes he can make a "huge impact" at his new position this fall. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

Articles in this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Sept. 10, 2018