Alabama center Jones gets much-anticipated green light


Alabama center Jones gets much-anticipated green light

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Barrett Jones returned to Alabama's offensive line in practice this week, quelling fears the All-American center would miss the BCS Championship against Notre Dame on Monday.

Jones previously had not practiced with the Tide following the SEC Championship as he dealt with a sprained left foot. He's the best player on Alabama's vaunted offensive line, and without him the Tide certainly would've had a more difficult time going up against Notre Dame similarly-vaunted front seven.

"Im just happy for him being back," left guard Chance Warmack told reporters Wednesday upon Alabama arriving in Miami. "Hes practicing with us and hes doing a really good job right now."

Jones has been a stalwart on Alabama's offensive line since its 2009 championship season. Monday will mark his third championship game appearance in the last four years, but he doesn't see experience being a key point in Alabama's favor on Jan. 7.

I think that might be a little overplayed," Jones said. "Once you get on the field its going to be about not necessarily whos the best team, its going to be about who plays the better game that day. Certainly our coaches have been in these situations and have learned how to effectively prepare us for the National Championship game. I think if there is an advantage that might be it.

Brian Kelly, though, feels he's gone through all the necessary channels to prepare Notre Dame despite his inexperience in the championship field. The third-year Irish coach quickly reached out to coaches at LSU and Oregon to get their input on a preparation schedule, and feels he and his staff successfully navigated uncharted waters to get their players prepared for Jan. 7.

"We've used all the models out there at our disposal to make sure that happens," Kelly said.

Notre Dame lands commitments from four-star twins Justin, Jayson Ademilola

Notre Dame lands commitments from four-star twins Justin, Jayson Ademilola

Notre Dame on Sunday earned verbal commitments from Jersey City, N.J. twins Justin and Jayson Ademilola. 

Justin Ademilola is rated by 247 Sports as a four-star outside linebacker and Jayson Ademilola is a four-star defensive end. Both brothers play at St. Peters Prep, the same high school at which Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Brandon Wimbush played. 

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who sends a tweet reading #WeAreND following a verbal commitment, had to alter his recruiting touchdown dance a bit:

Notre Dame now has four verbal commitments to its 2018 recruiting class: Four-star quarterback Phil Jurkovec (Gibsonia, Penn.), four-star running back Markese Stepp (Indianapolis) and the Ademilola twins. 

ESPN 1000 to be Notre Dame football, men's basketball flagship radio station

ESPN 1000 to be Notre Dame football, men's basketball flagship radio station

ESPN 1000 is Chicago's new flagship radio station for Notre Dame football and men's basketball broadcasts, with a multi-year agreeement being announced Tuesday. 

Notre Dame previously had its games broadcast on ESPN 1000 from 1999-2005. As part of the deal, IMG will produce Notre Dame football broadcasts, while ESPN will produce men's basketball games. 

"We are pleased to be partnering with Chicagoland’s leader in sports, ESPN 1000," Dan Skendzel, Notre Dame’s senior associate athletics director for media operations and branding, said. "In addition to the live broadcasts of Notre Dame football and basketball games, in-depth programming in the form of the Jack Swarbrick, Brian Kelly and Mike Brey Shows will now be available on Chicago radio.”

ESPN 1000's first Notre Dame game will be the Irish's season opener Sept. 4 against Texas. 

“In the world of college sports, there is nothing more prestigious to a broadcaster than teaming with Notre Dame,” Jim Pastor, general manager, ESPN Chicago 1000, said. “Returning Notre Dame football and basketball to our airwaves is great news for their legion of fans in Chicago and a great addition to ESPN 1000’s menu of championship play by play offerings.”

Notre Dame receiver Corey Robinson to step away from playing, will remain with program

Notre Dame receiver Corey Robinson to step away from playing, will remain with program

Corey Robinson announced Wednesday he’s stepping away from his Notre Dame football playing career due to multiple concussions. 

Robinson, a rising senior wide receiver, suffered his third concussion in 12 months during spring practice earlier this year and met with a head injury specialist in April. He was elected Notre Dame’s student body president in February, founded “One Shirt, One Body” and, among other accomplishments, sang the national anthem before a Chicago Bulls-Milwaukee Bucks game in April. 

Robinson did not participate in Notre Dame’s summer workouts, which began last weekend. Robinson wore his No. 88 jersey during Notre Dame’s Blue and Gold Game in mid-April but did not participate in the annual scrimmage. 

"After much contemplation and prayer, I have decided not to continue playing football due to multiple concussions," Robinson said. "I couldn't have come to this difficult personal decision without the incredible support from so many within the Notre Dame football program. I am extremely thankful to coach (Brian) Kelly and his staff for the life-changing opportunity to play football at the greatest university in the world. I will continue to help our team as a student assistant and look forward to a great senior year."

The San Antonio native, former four-star recruit and son of NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson caught 16 passes for 200 yards with a touchdown as a junior in 2015. It was a steep drop-off from his promising 40 catches, 539 yards and five touchdowns in 2014, though he would’ve provided valuable experience to a young Irish receiving corps had he returned to play this fall. 

With Robinson officially out of the picture, Notre Dame will lean on redshirt junior receiver Torii Hunter Jr. and redshirt freshman receiver Miles Boykin, as well as sophomore tight end Alize Jones, to play prominent roles as the team’s boundary-side receiver this fall. 

The player-to-student assistant plan is one followed in the Kelly era by former defensive lineman Tony Springmann, offensive lineman Conor Hanratty and linebacker/defensive end Doug Randolph. 

Robinson admitted in February he considered graduating early and giving up football — as former offensive lineman Steve Elmer did to pursue a job opportunity in Washington D.C. — but said at the time he wasn’t ready to give up his senior year of college. Even in walking away from football, though, Robinson can be pointed to as an example of what Notre Dame wants from its student-athletes after he achieved success on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

"This was an extremely tough decision for Corey," Kelly said. "He's such a committed kid to everything he does -- whether it be academics, football, community service or campus leadership initiatives -- that he wanted to finish his four-year career on the field. He was so excited to lead a group of young receivers this fall.

"While that won't happen in the manner Corey initially intended, he will remain involved with the program on a day-to-day basis as a student assistant. He sets a remarkable example for all of our players -- not only how to represent yourself on and off the field but also how working hard through adversity can lead to tremendous success."