SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly doesn't view Jesse Bongiovi's inclusion on his roster as a publicity stunt or a circus sideshow. Sure, the walk-on cornerback's father is rock legend Jon Bon Jovi, but Kelly explained that Bongiovi, a walk-on freshman cornerback, deserves to be part of the team.
"Jesse has earned his spot on the 105," Kelly said Friday. "He's a tough kid. The kids really like him. They respect him. They don't look at him as a rock star's son. They look at him as a kid that loves Notre Dame and wants to play football and help this team.
"He's had a good summer. (Strength) coach (Paul) Longo liked his work ethic and the way he competed."
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Bongiovi hardly is unique on this Notre Dame team in having a well-known father. DaVaris Daniels' dad, Phillip, played in the NFL from 1996-2010. Safety Austin Collinsworth is the son of former All-Pro Bengals safety and current NBC broadcaster Cris Collinsworth. Josh and George Atkinson's father, George, enjoyed a 10-year NFL career, primarily with the Oakland Raiders.
Outside of football, Notre Dame features freshman wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr., whose father has 308 career home runs and currently plays right field for the Detroit Tigers. Fellow wide receiver Corey Robinson's father, David, is a Hall of Fame center who won two NBA titles with the San Antonio Spurs.
"We got a lot of famous people," Kelly said. "(Bon Jovi) could probably get in the stadium and put a hat and glasses on and make it through the game. A guy that can't is David Robinson. He comes in the stadium, he's a guy that everybody knows who he is.
"We have a lot of those guys in our program that are high profile, but they handle themselves, and have in the past, with great class."
Kelly pointed to the importance of Brooklyn Poly Prep, Bongiovi's high school alma mater, in his staff's recruiting efforts, as Notre Dame has a verbal commit from there in class of 2014 four-star defensive tackle Jay Hayes.
Bon Jovi's connection to Notre Dame dates back to the Charlie Weis era, though he remained a fan of the team after Weis departed and was seen on the sidelines chatting with Kelly before the BCS Championship in January.
"I'm a huge fan of Bon Jovi -- didn't have to have his son to make that apparent," Kelly said. "He had a reputation here. … He's a great guy. He's a grounded guy. You think a rock star, (he'd be) an unapproachable guy."