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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 44 Jamir Jones, senior defensive end

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Clemson v Notre Dame

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 29: DJ Brown #12 and Jamir Jones #44 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish react after a play in the second half against the Clemson Tigers during the College Football Playoff Semifinal Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium on December 29, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Listed Measurements: 6-foot-3 ⅛, 257 pounds.2019-20 year, eligibility: A senior, Jones has one season of eligibility remaining, but it is not a sure thing that is used in 2019.Depth chart: At most schools, Jones would be looking at a sudden chance to contribute, a slow-developing senior finally ready to make his mark. At Notre Dame, though, Jones is stuck on the third-string at strong side end behind All-American candidate Khalid Kareem and possibly a budding star in Ade Ogundeji.Recruiting: The consensus three-star prospect chose the Irish over teams he would someday see on Notre Dame’s schedule: Boston College, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. As the No. 43 outside linebacker in the class of 2016 and the No. 2 prospect in New York, per, receiving such attention from the East Coast made sense for an upstate New Yorker.

Jones began his career buried on the depth chart at linebacker, only officially moving to defensive end in 2018’s spring. Thus, his first two years of stats largely came on special teams before making some genuine appearances last season.

2016: 10 games; 8 tackles.2017: 12 games; 4 tackles.2018: 12 games (did not play vs. Michigan); 12 tackles with one for loss, and one fumble recovery vs. Navy.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly did not name Jones specifically, but the consensus is Kelly had Jones in mind at the start of spring practices when he said a viable contributor might spend the season voluntarily sidelined.

“There’s not enough reps for everybody there,” Kelly said. “You’d even look at, can you redshirt somebody there? There’s so many guys there. There’s great depth there. They’re all going to want to compete, they’re all going to want to play. It’s going to be hard to get all those guys on the field. It’s a great situation to have.”

Of the upperclassmen at defensive end, Ogundeji has already redshirted a season, and Kareem, Julian Okwara and Daelin Hayes are all primed to head to the NFL after this year. Logically, that leaves Jones as the subject of Kelly’s thoughts.

“His experience at linebacker should have him prepared to set the edge against the run, a skill both Kareem and Ogundeji still need to further develop. It may not be enough to make Jones a frequent contributor, but he could find a role in specific situations.

“... Kareem has grown into a player from whom much is expected. That will limit the opportunities Jones sees. To compound that concern, Ogundeji was discussed as part of the playing time crunch which led, in part, to (Jay) Hayes’ transfer — Jones was not.

“The best hope for Jones is to follow a similar trajectory as his older brother, Jarron, former Irish defensive tackle and a recent signee by the New York Giants as an offensive tackle (a one-year, $480,000 non-guaranteed contract). Jarron took a few years to develop into the troublesome inside defensive presence he flashed as. Jamir lacks his older brother’s length, but his underlying athleticism is reminiscent of Jarron’s.”

Barring injury to Kareem and/or Ogundeji, Kelly’s plan will likely come to be a reality, one tolerable to Jones thanks to the NCAA now allowing players four games of action in a season in which they still preserve eligibility. Jones will not be standing idly by, twiddling his thumbs through the fall. He will be getting ready for those four appearances. This was not the NCAA’s intent, but it is a fair usage of the rule.

What four games Jones appears in will shed light on how Kelly may use this approach in the future. It is not so simple as presuming Jones will play in the biggest games; those are also the games Kareem and Ogundeji will be counted on the most, reducing Jones’ theoretical snap count in those appearances.

Perhaps he gets a full game’s workload in a week expected to be less challenging, giving Kareem (and his balky ankles) a week off.

Projecting any stats for Jones is a complete shot in the dark without knowing how those appearances will be used.

This approach sets up Jones for a fifth-year at Notre Dame, splitting time with Ogundeji. That could be a role in which Jones finally gets himself some attention — it was that exact duty, backing up Kareem, that got Ogundeji noticed last season.

That may seem a leap, but Jones looked viable in moments in 2018, and Kelly holding out this possibility at all indicates the Irish coaching staff sees a future for Jones. Perhaps their experience with Jarron informed them, perhaps Jamir showed enough sparks in practices last year to warrant guarded optimism.

It is hard to say what he needs to work on for that optimism to pay off, given so little has been seen of Jones. He has always had decent length and a strong base. In those respects, he could fill in for Kareem’s heft compared to Ogundeji’s litheness.

But it is not an absolute Jones returns. If at some point this season freshman NaNa Osafo-Mensah outpaces Jones, thus foreshadowing a 2020 where Jones remains on the Irish third-string, then a graduate transfer would be an option thanks to Kelly’s expected roster management this fall.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90: Hunter Spears, defensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver
No. 85: George Takacs, tight end
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 80: Micah Jones, receiver
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right guard, three-year starter
No. 77: Quinn Carroll, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive guard
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive lineman
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, left tackle, two-year starter
No. 73: Andrew Kristofic, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle, three-year starter
No. 71: John Olmstead, offensive lineman, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 69: Aaron Banks, left guard
No. 60: Cole Mabry, offensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, veteran backup offensive lineman
No. 57: Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle
No. 56: John Dirksen, offensive lineman
No. 56: Howard Cross, incoming freshman defensive lineman, consensus four-star
No. 55: Jarrett Patterson, starting center
No. 55: Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle returning from injury
No. 54: Jacob Lacey, consensus four-star defensive tackle, early enrollee
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, senior defensive end
No. 52: Zeke Correll, consensus four-star center, early enrollee
No. 52: Bo Bauer, linebacker, sophomore
No. 50: J.D. Bertrand, consensus four-star linebacker
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, junior defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, senior inside linebacker