Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2019

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

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16 DECEMBER 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TODD D. BURLAGE W hether it was while playing youth league sports against kids about twice his age or following a tireless pursuit to become the best all-around athlete in South Florida, Tony Jones Jr. pre- pared himself well as a youngster with a willingness to try everything and fear nothing. Not much changed for Jones dur- ing his time at Notre Dame. The se- nior running back has steadily moved from redshirt to one of the most valu- able players on the Irish offense. Whatever is asked — flattening tacklers, playing while injured or fighting for the extra yard — Jones delivers, and his teammates recog- nize his selflessness and dedication. "We know that when he's running behind us he is going to give every- thing he's got," junior tight end Cole Kmet said. "He's been a great leader in that running back room and a great warrior on the field." A native of St. Petersburg, Fla., and one of the top running back recruits coming out of football factory IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Jones probably has many more reasons why he should be playing college football in the sunny south rather than snowy South Bend. Along with his father, Tony Jones Sr., and his mother, Natalie, the Joneses initially made recruiting visits to Florida, Florida State, Miami and Georgia. "But mom wasn't pleased with any of [the visits], until we came to Notre Dame," Jones recalled. "She was im- pressed with the education and the people, it felt like a tight-knit family." So an unexpected decision was made. "I never liked Notre Dame when I was growing up," Jones said with a laugh. "And then, I just came here, and I just fell in love, I committed the next day." SPARE NO EXPENSE Wanting their son to become the best person, student and athlete he could be, mom and dad made plenty REDEMPTION VALUE Patience and persistence is paying off for Tony Jones Jr.

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