Ask Micah Jones who he models his game after, and the 4-star wide receiver mentions two outstanding athletes with similar frames: the Clemson Tigers’ Mike Williams, now with the Los Angeles Chargers and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets’ Calvin Johnson, who recently retired from the NFL after nine seasons.
If Jones can live up to half of those lofty expectations, the 6-foot-5, 205 pound receiver may become the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s favorite go-to guys in the red zone.
Jones finished his senior season at Warren Township High School with 52 receptions, 692 yards and 12 touchdowns. It’s an impressive season by most metrics — except Jones’ own. The Gurnee, Illinois, product wanted to eclipse 1,000 yards, 10 touchdowns and lead his team to the state championships. (The Blue Devils fell in the second round of the playoffs.)
Jones’ new goals are no less lofty — the early enrollee doesn’t want to wait a year to see the field. He thinks he can contribute right away.
The Irish don’t lack for receivers, but they didn’t have a standout during the 2017 campaign. Equanimeous St. Brown caught the most balls (31) and had the most receiving yards (468), but no receiver had more than five touchdowns (Kevin Stepherson).
It's finally official for @mej2018!— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 20, 2017
He's been ready to join the Irish for a long time and we're thrilled to have a guy like Micah join Coach Alexander's WR core.#GoIrish ☘ #IrishBouND18 pic.twitter.com/yhCgzgpnfS
It’s a weak year for wide receivers in this year’s NFL Draft, which may tempt St. Brown to take the plunge. Josh Adams will likely depart for the pros and Durham Smythe has exhausted his eligibility, which means there may mean 33 percent of pass catching production may be out the door.
Jones will certainly compete with fellow wide receiver commit Kevin Austin for attention, but Bryan McNulty — Jones’ high school coach — says everyone will take notice of his guy.
“He’s gotten better every year,” McNulty told the Chicago Tribune this August. “He’s doing things this year that we haven’t seen out of him the last three. The way he’s competing for footballs, how strong he is. He’s playing at an elite level and he’s confident. We think he’s the best receiver in the state. He’s kind of a hidden gem.”
Our own Nick Dubose offered this analysis when Jones committed in February:
“Most of Jones’ routes were a hitch or a slant into traffic, and he typically finds open spaces inside the defense’s coverage. The swarming defense caused Jones to develop good habits; he uses his hands well to snag passes while being harassed. He never lets the ball get to his body. It’s an invaluable skill and one that saves Irish fans from outbursts caused by dropped passes on perfectly thrown balls.
“Jones is also skilled at using his body to block out the defensive back, which frees his hands for the pass. This is similar to a sound rebounder in basketball and Jones perfected this technique in shorter routes.”