Notre Dame received its 23rd commitment for the recruiting class of 2015 when blue-chip Nevada tight end Alize Jones flipped from UCLA to Notre Dame this afternoon. Williams is listed at 6'5" and 220 pounds with a 4.67 40 (from Nike SPARQ scoring); in the 247 Composite, he's ranked #55 overall, #1 at tight end, and #1 in Nevada. After being on the wrong end of seemingly countless recruiting battles with UCLA, Irish fans will relish this flip for some time - and more importantly, they should be ecstatic that the Irish landed one of the most elite talents in the country.
Since showing up unannounced on an unofficial visit for the Michigan game with good friend, teammate, and fellow Irish commit Nicco Fertitta, rumors have floated that Alize was drifting to Notre Dame. While the recruiting services remained confident the flip would happen, a scheduled official visit to UCLA for this weekend had Irish fans concerned. Over the last couple of days, though, Jones canceled that visit, stopped following UCLA coaches on Twitter, and administered the final coup de grace today when he decommitted from UCLA on Twitter and immediately commited to Notre Dame.
I am officially decommitting from UCLA. Thank you to the coaches and all the fans for your love and support! God has another plan for me!— ALIZE JONES (@AlizeJones8) January 15, 2015
Recruiting Service Rankings
Rivals - 4 star (5.9 rating), #70 overall, #2 position, #1 in Nevada
247 - 4 star (94 rating), #136 overall, #1 position, #2 in Nevada
ESPN - 4 star (86 rating), #52 overall, #1 position, #1 in Nevada
Scout - 5 star, #32 overall, #2 position, #1 in Nevada
247 Composite - 4 star (0.9714 rating), #55 overall, #1 position, #1 in Nevada
Alize is extraordinarily smooth for someone his size and, while he had a rough week of practice at the Army All-American game, shows nice soft hands and doesn't let the ball get into his body. He runs pretty good routes when called upon to do so, high-points the ball nicely on fades, and is an absolute load to bring down at full speed. Every school in the country would drool over the prospect of getting a tight end with receiving skills at his level, as evidenced by an offer list that includes Auburn, Georgia, Oklahoma, and USC, in addition to UCLA and Notre Dame.
Notably absent from this highlight reel is any blocking. Jones was being recruited by most schools as a detached tight end or a jumbo wide receiver; part of the reason he chose Notre Dame is that he wants to be a true double-threat tight end and he appreciates how Notre Dame has churned those out with regularity. He told his high school coaches before this season that he wanted to work more on blocking, and no doubt will bring that same ethic to South Bend. He has the physical mentality, just needs to hone his craft.
Book it - Alize Jones will play a significant role for the Irish from Day 1. I don't mean this as any slight to the guys currently on the team because I like what all of them can bring to the table, but Jones may well be our best receiving tight end from the moment he gets to campus. He's that good. His playing time will be limited until he gets his blocking ability up to what Kelly expects from his full-time tight ends, but he'll play right away.
Long Term / Career
And here's the point where I really push the hype... Remember Tyler Eifert? This kid is Eifert 2.0. If he stays healthy and continues his dedication to blocking, the sky's the limit. Actually, a better comparison might be Kyle Rudolph - Rudolph was rated higher and was a little bigger coming out of high school, but otherwise they're very similar prospects. Either way, Eifert and Rudolph are obviously excellent company to be in, and there's every reason to believe that Jones will belong in that company down the road.