Ten@10: Dad beams as Tai-ler ‘TJ’ Jones gets starting nod at Notre Dame

THE TEN AT 10:

Former Gainesville star Tailer "TJ" Jones is slated to start at the X receiver position for Notre Dame. (Special photo)

Former Gainesville star Tailer "TJ" Jones is slated to start at the X receiver position for Notre Dame. (Special photo)

1. Wide receiver Tai-ler “TJ” Jones of Gainesville, a 2009 AJC Super 11 player, will become the first true freshman since Milt Jackson in 1982 to start a season-opening game for Notre Dame. This is a matter of more than a little pride for his father, Andre Jones, who played for the Fighting Irish 1987-91.

“I am at a lost for words,” Andre Jones told me in an e-mail exchange this week. “It’s nostalgic and very surreal all at the same time. I think most dads can confess the joy of seeing their sons play Division-1 football. But to play at your alma mater is another caveat I never imagined.”

Andre points out that his son, who is going by TJ instead of his given name Tai-ler in South Bend, is also the first “legacy child” from Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship team to start for the Irish. Jones’ godfather is none other than Raghib “Rocket” Ismail.

“That’s definitely one thing I can one-up him on,” TJ Jones said in a story in the Kalamazoo Gazette. “But there’s also things he can one-up me on as well.”

Of course, the fact that TJ will now be playing every week all over America makes for a bit of a travel challenge for the Jones. They have other children who also excel in athletics and academics.

“I will attend as many games as their schedules allow me to make,” Andre Jones said. “I will be there for the season opener and for Michigan next week. I will also catch the game versus Navy at the new New York Jets stadium and the game vs. Army at Yankee Stadium. After those games, I will have to travel as opportunity permits.”

TJ had 76 receptions for 1,399 yards and 18 touchdowns as senior at Gainesville last year.

2. Andre Jones is not the only one with travel challenges this fall. I’ll have a separate blog post up about this later this afternoon, but Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw will be running all over the place the next few days.

This afternoon Shaw will be missing a practice for the first time in his coaching career so he can leave at 1 p.m. for Columbia, S.C. That was he’ll be able to catch South Carolina’s season opener tonight against Southern Miss. Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier is on record saying Lee’s son Connor Shaw, a true freshman quarterback, will definitely play in tonight’s game.

“I’ve never missed one before but I have to be there for my son’s first college game,” Lee Shaw said of missing his team’s walk-through this afternoon.

After getting home at about 3 a.m. Friday, Coach Shaw will lead his team that night against Winder-Barrow. After breaking down film following the game, he will hop back in his car and make the three-hour drive down to Statesboro where his older son Jaybo Shaw is slated to start for Georgia Southern.

3. Another local product expected to see a lot of action in his first collegiate game is Stone Mountain’s Raymond Sanders. The all-star running back from Stephenson High has drawn a lot of praise from first-year Kentucky coach Joker Phillips for both his ability and his moxie during preseason camp. Sanders (5-8, 179) is expected to be rewarded in Saturday’s opener against Louisville as a kick returner and possibly some carries out of the backfield.

“I think I can help the team,” Sanders told the Danville (Ky.) Advocate. “I want to take it slow and learn from the older guys, learn the system and learn how the coaches work. I want to fit in and excel from there, but I do think I can help the team in different ways.”

Sanders, who rushed for nearly 1,600 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior at Stephenson last year, surprised UK fans when he said he intended to take over kick returning duties from senior derrick Locke, one of the nation’s best.

“I didn’t say I was going to take it. I said I was going to relieve him of his duties,” Sanders said. “We are good. He told me he came in the same way with the same confidence. I have to have that confidence to get on the field. He told me to just keep it up. He has been teaching me a lot.”

4. Sanders, who played youth football in Tucker, is one of three running backs who came out of DeKalb County’s parks who will play in their first college games this week. Miami’s Storm Johnson (Loganville) and Florida’s Mack Brown (M.L King), who played in the Central DeKalb Youth Association, are also expected to see action.

5. ESPNU released its watch list of top prospects for the Class of 2012 and 25 of the players on it were from Georgia. That was fourth among the states represented. Texas (44), California (41) and Florida (40) led the way. ESPNU’s list will continue to grow through the season before being whittled down to the elite ESPNU 150 sometime next year. Georgians to make the list so far are Vadal Alexander, Dakota Ball, Deoin Bonner, Carnell Boyd, Josh Clemons, Imani Cross, James DeLoach, Kenyan Drake, Chaz Elder, Leonard Floyd, Joe Harris, Quavon Hicks, Jordan Jenkins, Jarontay Jones, Greyson Lambert, Jafar Mann, Devon Miller, Kaleb Nobles, Demarco Robinson, Artimus Samuel, Geno Smith, Dalvin Tomlinson, Jordan Watkins, Jedarius West and Quinteze Williams.

6. Not surprisingly, several true freshmen are expected to make an impact for Georgia State when the Panthers open their inaugural season of football tonight in the Georgia Dome. According to GSU publicist Allison George two in particular to keep an eye out for are a pair of Port St. Lucie, Fla., products: Speedy defensive back Justin Hughes and  receiver and return specialist Albert Wilson.

7. The NCAA enforcement staff’s current fixation on North Carolina is starting to impact the Tar Heels’ recruiting. Demetrious Nicholson, a defensive back from Virginia Beach, Va., told PalmettoSports.com he was close to committing to North Carolina before the NCAA investigation caused him to rethink his plans. “I’m kind of holding off on everything and I’ve opened the doors back wide open,” Nicholson said. Closer to home, Georgia Tech commitment Vad Lee of Durham, N.C., recently posted a Facebook comment to UNC commitment Romar Morris asking him “do you want to re-think UNC now?”

8. Wednesday was the first day college coaches could begin communicating with prospects entering their junior seasons. Sept. 1 used to be the first day official written offers were extended but that is no longer the case due to an NCAA legislative change earlier this summer. Now written offers cannot be sent until Aug. 1, which goes into effect in 2011. What it means now is the phones of top-shelf recruits are starting to light up.  “And it starts, the first day of many days that coaches will be calling me,” Colquitt County offensive tackle Xzavier Ward said on his Facebook page Wednesday. ” I didn’t think it was serious like that. Coaches are really blowin’ me up.”

9. The coach of Monroe Area all-star defensive end Stephon Tuitt said Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham didn’t bail out “at the last minute” on a speaking engagement at a school fundraiser as has been reported on some fan websites.

“That’s not true,” coach Matt Fligg said. “What happened is we had Coach Grantham lined up to come talk to our people for a little fundraiser we have down here every year. It’s true that he had to back out. But they called three or four weeks beforehand and said Coach Richt had moved practice and he wasn’t going to be able to make it.”

Even though Grantham’s name was on the tickets sold to the event, Georgia Tech team chaplain and life coach Derrick Moore filled in and “did an absolutely awesome job,” Fligg said.

This incident aside, Georgia Tech is expected to win the sweepstakes in the recruitment of the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Tuitt, the No. 22-ranked prospect in the country, according to Rivals.com. Georgia is “just outside” his top five, Tuitt says.

10. THIS & THAT: Earlier this week I wrote stories on the true freshmen expected to make impacts on their teams at Georgia and Georgia Tech. As of Thursday morning, here’s who you said would be the freshmen of greatest impact at the respective schools with voting your on polls (which remain open): S Alec Ogletree took 67 percent of the votes (670) over DE T.J Stripling and QB Hutson Mason, with 13 percent each. At Tech you favored S Isaiah Johnson with 38 percent of the votes (96) ahead of ATH B.J. Bostic (28 percent) and RB Charles Perkins (17). . . .

Tucker’s Aaron Epps, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound offensive lineman, committed to Louisville on Wednesday, coach Franklin Stephens said. . . . Rashad Cunningham, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound speedster from Mobile, Ala., committed to Kentucky. The three-star prospect, who has been clocked at 4.4 in the 40, had offers from Arkansas, Mississippi State, Memphis, UAB and South Alabama. He is the 19th commitment for the Wildcats 2011 class. . . . 2012 graduate Avery Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound wide receiver from Pompano Beach, Fla., committed to LSU on Wednesday. He had an offer from Georgia as well as Alabama, Florida, FSU and Miami. . . . OL Justin Bell (6-3, 320) of Jackson, Miss., committed to Ole Miss, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported.

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88 comments Add your comment

memphisdawg

September 2nd, 2010
10:25 am

Can’t wait for this weekend. GO DAWGS!!!

Tybee Dawg

September 2nd, 2010
10:29 am

GT is full of losers.

CONFEDERATE DAWG

September 2nd, 2010
10:37 am

LETS GET IT DAWGS!

Branden Smith

September 2nd, 2010
10:38 am

Reb Fan

September 2nd, 2010
10:45 am

True freshman Martez Eastland from Ringgold, GA will also play a lot in the Ole Miss opener on Saturday.

jimmymack

September 2nd, 2010
10:47 am

coach grantham should be spending all time allowed in monroe the kid is a bluechip winner

Blindog

September 2nd, 2010
10:51 am

Get ready for a wonderful season to begin. The Dawgs will be awesome and win a lot of games,and one of those games just may be the SEC Championship game.Get ready! GO DAWGS!!!!

RxDawg

September 2nd, 2010
10:52 am

“do you what re-think UNC now?”

Uhoh, I’m sure the Tech grammer police out there is going to jump all over that. Oh, what’s that? He’s a Tech recruit? Nevermind then, nothing to see here.

Sanford Drive

September 2nd, 2010
10:55 am

http://dawgdayafternoon.blogspot.com/

Read why UGA and UF should NEVER play twice in the same season, and why OSU/MICH fans should be upset with the Big 12…… and other fun Dawg stories, from a Dawg fan.

Matthews Dawg

September 2nd, 2010
10:59 am

Now I understand why “TJ” went to Notre Dame! Good for him and good luck. Now, it’s time to tee it up and kick it off! It’s been a long time coming! Go Dawgs!!

DostaDawg

September 2nd, 2010
11:03 am

GO Dawgs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Burdell

September 2nd, 2010
11:08 am

RxDawg—yeah, i noticed that too. As I am not a Facebooker I am just hoping that was a typo on Chip’s part…or maybe an auto-correct on a misspell from a smart phone. But I am all for Vad trying to get Romar to jump the sinking ship that is No Carolina.

Burdell

September 2nd, 2010
11:10 am

Oh, and its grammar…Rx… ;)

Hope all of our state schools’ teams get off to a great start this weekend…no injuries please!!

Chip Towers

September 2nd, 2010
11:15 am

Burdell, RxDawg: Typo on my part. My bad. fixed now.

CBB1

September 2nd, 2010
11:17 am

That brings back memories of the Central Dekalb Youth Football Organization. Are there any Central Dekalb Football alum from the mid to late ’70’s reading this blog? I played there then and would love to hear from some of you. Played for Coach Joe Cunningham’s playoff team in 1980 that made it to the “Brazier Bowl.”

Atlanta Notre Dame Alum

September 2nd, 2010
11:18 am

Read post where TJ is also killing it in the classroom.. Deciding between Political Science or Molecular Biology… Regardless of what happens on the field, this kid will have a very bright future! Hopefully ND will bounce back under Coach Kelly, but in the interim, its a place where young players can see the field early and often!

GT Sambo

September 2nd, 2010
11:21 am

Georgia Tech commitment Vad Lee of Durham, N.C., recently posted a Facebook comment to UNC commitment Romar Morris asking him “do you want to re-think UNC now?”

Yes, Romar, come on down to the Flats. It is clear that UNC just told you what you wanted to hear about playing RB just to get you to commit! Romar Morris = ideal A-back recruit!

RomeDawg

September 2nd, 2010
11:22 am

I hope TJ Jones makes all Georgians proud! Good luck in South Bend! Watch for Lil ‘ol Shorter College to give Georgia State fits. Phil Jones can coach!

IndianaDawg

September 2nd, 2010
11:27 am

Let’s go Dawgs!!

theTruth

September 2nd, 2010
11:27 am

Reb Fan, that is great to hear. I thought he going to Auburn? Nice to know he ended up in the SEC.

theTruth

September 2nd, 2010
11:28 am

I thought he WAS going to Auburn…..sheesh

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

September 2nd, 2010
11:37 am

hopefully Ward will be a Dawg

Flo-Ri-Duh!

September 2nd, 2010
11:41 am

Starting on a team that will win ,maybe . half their games even though they play a mediocre schedule is no big deal.. Notre Dame is vastly over rated. Also, T.J. is starting because all Notre Dame’s starters at WR from last year either graduated or turned pro. Still, I wish him luck.

KD

September 2nd, 2010
11:48 am

Seems that if UGA really wanted Tuitt, Richt would have let Grantham omiss one practice, they do have other assistant coaches for the defense. I wonder what Tuitt thinks of that situation, he probably really hurt UGA.

PDX Dawg

September 2nd, 2010
11:59 am

congrats in advance to Tech if they end up signing Tuitt. It seems UGA has seen the writing on the wall – if he wants to go to Tech then go for it! Good luck to him.

As for TJ – starting WR as a true frshman at ND….. Sounds like a dream come true to him and his father. That is great. Even though I wouldve loved to seen him be a Dawg if his heart is at ND then I am happy for him. Well done young man and congrats on seeing your hard work begin to pay off!

PDX Dawg

September 2nd, 2010
12:02 pm

KD – I dont know about you but the way UGA defense has played the past few years I think Grantham needs to be at all the practices he possibly can and let Garner take care of recruiting. There are only so many practices allowed and they all count and are important to be at. It doesnt sound likt Tuitt wants to be a Dawg anyway….Grantham made the right choice.

VolDoc

September 2nd, 2010
12:03 pm

I am so ready for the start of the season…. Tennessee will have some tough moments, yet after the press conerence yesterday and knowing the kids will have a true leader in Derrick D., I am looking forward to the future!!!…….. I wish the best to all the SEC teams and fans, yet when we do sneak in and get win do not be suprised, hey it is college football…. Everybody have fun and enjoy the moments!!

Reb Fan

September 2nd, 2010
12:17 pm

Truth- Auburn never actually offered him, or if they did they were too late, they backed off and Ole Miss really jumped him hard late…

Burdell

September 2nd, 2010
12:29 pm

“and Ole Miss really jumped him hard late…”

I knew things were backward in Mississippi but that is too much information…

Dawggie

September 2nd, 2010
12:42 pm

Anyone heard any reasons on why UGA isn’t pursuing Tuitt or AJ Johnson? Are they good kids? Just stumps me on why, after moving to a 3-4 that we aren’t pursuing more LB’s after missing on both of the Tucker high kids?

Flo-Ri-Duh!

September 2nd, 2010
12:42 pm

AJC needs to reign their rouge reporters A staff reporter (Beardmore) out right wrote that A.J. Green was involved in the NCAA “scandal”. He doesn’t know this … he has no proof and this is speculation run amuck. He should be sued for slander and made to apologize for false accusations – shortly after he is fired.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

September 2nd, 2010
12:43 pm

UGA offerd Tuitt and A.J. Johnson scholarships – they showed little if any interest in UGA. To deep on the depth chart is my guess.

Burdell

September 2nd, 2010
12:48 pm

“AJC needs to reign [in] their rouge reporters”

Is a rouge reporter one that wears makeup?

Flo-Ri-Duh!

September 2nd, 2010
12:48 pm

Notre Dame has been irrelevant for about 10 years now – but still full of self importance. They don’t deserve all this publicity and air time. They are used to be’s. T. Jones is starting because all of last years starters are gone. Still I wish him well on the # 43 ranked Notre Dame team.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

September 2nd, 2010
12:49 pm

Rajun Cajuns are about to surprise the GameCrocks…. don’t expect this to be a blowout.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

September 2nd, 2010
12:51 pm

Whoops – wrong team. Any way expect S. Carolina to come in under the point spread tonight.

Tom

September 2nd, 2010
12:57 pm

Is Monroe HC Matt Fligg related to former GT asst coach Jack Fligg?

Shathead

September 2nd, 2010
12:59 pm

Fact: Monroe lost every game the past 2 years until they beat class A “powerhouse” Monticello. There’s no way Tuitt would allow the team to lose 20 in a row if he truly was a 5 star player. Playing the schedule they play, he could have won some games by himself. Seems to me he is a “camp” player, meaning he looks great in shorts running around, but can’t play well. Be a great fit at Tech

UGA recruiting

September 2nd, 2010
1:04 pm

I was under the impression UGA did NOT offer AJ Johnson. Maybe some of our recruiting experts can clarify that.

Gotta say it would be pretty cool..

September 2nd, 2010
1:05 pm

if Tech and uga were undefeated when they played each other. I really hope the dawgs have a good year. Im a tech fan but I want the state of GA to do well. GA needs to become like texas when it comes to football..

ryan

September 2nd, 2010
1:06 pm

Hey Towers i thought Tie Ler Jones was involved that 11 player underage drinking arrest and he is going to start.

Shathead

September 2nd, 2010
1:07 pm

UGA didn’t offer AJ Johnson. Some issues off the field they didn’t want to potentially deal with. And yes, more than LeMay

Arnie West

September 2nd, 2010
1:09 pm

To “ryan”: He was. But hey, Brian Kelly is trying to win games, he can’t suspend underage drinkers. That attitude will come back and bite him though

Look Alive

September 2nd, 2010
1:14 pm

10 at 10 wasted 4 sections reporting on turncoats that deserted the state that funded their education and training to play for the enemy. Why waste our time printing this garbage. When they leave the state then the local papers where they have gone to can give them their due Players coming from another state to play in Georgia can be reported on by the AJC and their home state newspapers can say good riddance if the choose. In other words, spend more time on UGA and GT recruits (as well as other in-state teams) and none on turncoats. Other than that we apprediate the info. Thanks

ryan

September 2nd, 2010
1:16 pm

Towers i saw on Rivals that Ramik Wilson has UGA in is top 5 do you know anything about the DT from Tampa .

Ryan NOT

September 2nd, 2010
1:17 pm

Should check on-line print… case dismissed for “wrong information” – Haterrrr!!

Duke Yellowjacket

September 2nd, 2010
1:36 pm

“I am at a lost for words,” Andre Jones told me in an e-mail exchange this week.

I bet you are, Andre. Let’s just hope that Notre Dame’s academic support system (ASS) for athletes doesn’t fail young Tai-ler as well.

THWG.

AuburnMan

September 2nd, 2010
1:39 pm

I live in Loganville, GA and had the chance to watch Tuitt play last year. Needless to say I wasn’t impressed one bit. IMO, the guy is way overrated, sure he has the size and raw abilities but he has a long way to go. Workout warrior? I think thats fair.

Please tell me Auburn isn’t recruiting him! I hope he ends up at Tech or UGA

Rhall55

September 2nd, 2010
1:44 pm

Not being @ the event for Tuitt could hurt!!! I think we are being out-hustled for many recruits: Johnson, Brown, Tuitt, Vaughters……last year: Whitaker, M Brown, etc; keep the best in the state!!Other Universities do it!!!!

YES GA

September 2nd, 2010
1:46 pm

Look Alive get a life. Its not a waste it is good inform. We like to keep up with our Georgia Boys.
We take pride that we are talent rich , it also sends the message that Georgia is the place to come it they want to win football games!