• Phil Houk

T.J. Jones: All-Time Irish Hero

In January of 2010 as part of his first class of incoming freshman Brian Kelly welcomed, a 6-0 190-pound four-star wide receiver out of the state of Georgia.TJ Jones was the son of Andre Jones who had been a starting defensive end for Lou Holtz on the 1988 national championship team.

His father Andre Jones, was not the only ND connection Jones had because, Raghib “Rocket” Ismail is TJ’s Godfather. TJ started 7 games in his first season catching 23 passes good for 306 yards and 3 TDs. Having established himself in that first year, there were high expectations for him as a Sophomore. Sadly, tragedy hit him when he lost his father to a brain aneurism in June of 2011. Andre Jones had passed away at the way too young age of 42. Losing his father hit TJ hard and at times he seemed to struggle on the field as a Sophomore. Still he started 12 games and put up good numbers, 38 catches for 388 yards and another 3 touchdowns. Jones hit his stride as a Junior during ND’s run to the 2012 BCS national championship game. During the season he accumulated 50 catches 649 yards and 4 touchdowns. Against Stanford in a driving rainstorm he caught the winning score with a sliding end zone grab in overtime. Jones also caught last minute winning scores against Purdue and Pittsburgh. He was one of the bright spots for the Irish in the national championship game with 6 catches for 90 yards. By 2013 Jones was named as a team Captain and was established as a star. TJ met the challenge of those expectation with career high numbers of 70 receptions, 1,108 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also scored 2 touchdowns running the ball. Included in those totals was the game winning TD against USC and an 80 yard catch and run to the end zone against Pittsburgh. For his career, Jones’s 2,429 yards receiving rank 7th best in school history, just below Tim Brown and a slot ahead of Tom Gatewood. A 6th round draft pick of the Detroit Lions, Jones has enjoyed a 6-year NFL career with the Lions, and NY Giants. For his soft hands, excellent speed, clutch play and team leadership, TJ Jones is an All-time Irish Hero.

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