Before the season even started Brian Kelly was singing the praise of TJ Jones calling him the best route runner in the country. The Irish senior and captain is proving his coach right through the first 6 games of the season. Last Saturday night Jones came up with 8 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown as the Irish upset Arizona State 37-34.
By no means was this a surprise to Coach Kelly or Irish fans as TJ leads the team in both receptions and yards this season. Jones and Irish quarterback Tommy Rees have come up together as freshman under Kelly and Rees' believes that to be one of the keys to their success.
"Him and I came in together four years ago, and you know, you can't say enough about how the kid has grown since he's been here," Tommy Rees said. He added "You know, a guy like that I can trust and count on being on the same page. He obviously catches everything and does a great job."
Coach Kelly also acknowledged the connection and understanding the two of them have for the game.
"Tommy and TJ have come through this program together," Coach Brian Kelly said. "Whereas sometimes we misfire with some of the other younger receivers, and I think you probably saw that at times, him and TJ Jones are right on the same page. And when he's in trouble, he's looking for TJ Jones."
Over the course of the year he has continued to find TJ. This season Jones has 33 catches for 481 and 4 touchdowns. On top of that he is averaging 14.6 yards per catch. His quarterback gives him all the credit for getting open and making things happen.
"He's such a smart football player," Tommy said. "I think that's one of the things that all good receivers have is they understand coverage. They understand leverage and how to run routes. TJ's best asset is how well he understands defenders are playing him, and then he runs routes based off of that."
The Irish are off this week but are back in action on the 19th when Jones and the Irish take on USC at Notre Dame, kickoff is set for 7:30 pm.