Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2018

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

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34 FEBRUARY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY DAVID MCKINNEY Following the Dec. 20‑22 early signing period, Notre Dame wanted to add at least one more offensive lineman to the 2018 class. The Irish did exactly that in late December when Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Academy three‑star offensive tackle Luke Jones flipped his commitment from Arkansas to Notre Dame. The Irish coaching staff had been working on Jones for months, but the No. 4 player in Arkansas took his time making a final decision. He took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame for the USC game Oct. 21, hosted offen‑ sive line coach Harry Hiestand on an in‑home visit after the regular season, and returned to South Bend for an official visit for the weekend of the Echoes Awards Dec. 8‑10. The following weekend, Jones took an official visit to Arkansas to meet with new head coach Chad Morris and then opted not to sign a National Letter of Intent during the early sign‑ ing period. Jones announced his school switch Dec. 27. Pulaski Academy offensive line coach Blake Amsler said Jones should thrive at a place like Notre Dame. "He's been put through some rig‑ ors academically and done just fine," Amsler said. "I think that will be a great fit for him." Fortunately for Jones, going to a school with academic challenges like Notre Dame won't be much different than his current experience at Pulaski Academy. "Our school is actually a private college preparatory school," Amsler said. "Overall the standards of aca‑ demics here in high school are higher than most average public schools." Of course, it's not all about aca‑ demics. Hiestand saw something in Jones on film that caught his eye, and Amsler said the first thing coaches normally notice about Jones is his size. At 6‑4 and 290 pounds, Jones is an imposing high school specimen that is a quality athlete. "The first thing you see on film is how big he is," Amsler said. "As far as his play on the field, I think the big‑ gest thing that pops out is how well he moves out in space on screens. "He takes a lot of pride in getting out there for his receivers and run‑ ning backs." According to Amsler, Jones' size and ability to move have been a huge part of Pulaski's success the last four years. "He's very long and very athletic as far as an offensive lineman," Amsler said. "That fits really well in our scheme." Pulaski features a high‑powered offense that rarely, if ever, punts or kicks field goals. Thanks to playing in that system, Amsler said, Jones is an advanced pass blocker for some‑ one his age. "We play a spread, wide‑open of‑ fense," Amsler said. "He's very used to pass blocking and fits in that type of system." Though he plays tackle at the high school level, Jones could very well end up sliding inside to guard or cen‑ ter in college. Amsler said Jones' position would likely be determined by the type of offense Notre Dame runs. "In a more pro‑style system, I wouldn't be surprised if he kicked inside," Amsler said. "In a spread system, I could see him being an edge player out at tackle." During Jones' four years at Pulaski, the Bruins amassed a 54‑2 record, go‑ ing undefeated twice and winning four consecutive state championships. Rivals Southeast analyst Chad Sim‑ mons said Jones brings a winning attitude to line of scrimmage. "Jones' frame is what stands out immediately," Simmons said. "He passes that eye test the minute he steps onto the field. "Another positive is his aggres‑ sion. He gets after it and he loves to put defenders on their backs." Like Amsler, Simmons sees Jones as a big man that can throw his weight around and put people in the ground on the line of scrimmage or in the open field. "When watching him in his of‑ fense, you see him getting down the field and his ability to move," Sim‑ mons said. "He shows good balance, the ability to pull and the desire to finish blocks." Jones, the No. 45 offensive tackle in the class of 2018 according to Rivals, is the third offensive lineman in Notre Dame's 2018 class, joining three‑star tackles Cole Mabry of Brentwood (Tenn.) High and John Dirksen of Ma‑ ria Stein (Ohio) Marion Local. Since he committed after the early signing period, Jones will sign with Notre Dame on the traditional Na‑ tional Signing Day Feb. 7. ✦ FILM ANALYSIS Strengths Luke Jones has the skill set to play tackle, guard or center in college, which is the type of versatility line coach Harry Hiestand desires … Fundamentally sound player with good in- stincts in pass protection … Can thrive inside thanks to his ability to quickly read and react to twists and stunts from the defense … Moves well in space on pulls and in the screen game, which is needed for guards and centers at Notre Dame … Plays with a good base, has quick feet and will compete, traits that project well at guard or center. Areas For Improvement Is tight in the hips and bends more at the waste instead of at the knees … Also has a tendency to lunge at defenders on the edge instead of stepping to engage, which must be corrected … Will have to keep filling out his frame. — Bryan Driskell COMMITMENT PROFILE LUKE JONES Arkansas Offensive Line Commit Flips To Notre Dame Jones, a 2017 USA Today All-USA Arkansas first- team selection, had been committed to the in- state Razorbacks since June. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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