Notre Dame wide receiver TJ Jones is looking forward to a big year on the field as the Fighting Irish look to repeat the regular season success of 2012. Off the field, Jones has welcomed new challenges -- challenges like swimming with sharks.
When we say "sharks," we do not mean aggressive defensive backs or other braggadocios defenders with their hands above their helmets.
Jones spent part of his offseason shadowing the staff at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. The Fighting Irish wide receiver told UND.com that he had been fascinated with marine life since he was ten years old, and his first experience in the shark tank was like being "a kid in a toy store."
"There is definitely a physical aspect to diving," Jones said. "I felt this more during my dive certification when we were spending 4-5 hours in water a day. It's a workout, you burn calories. If you're not properly hydrated, you cramp up. Even though you're underwater and you feel weightless, after 30, 45 minutes of kicking around with that big tank on your back against the water currents, it's definitely physically tough on your body."
Jones has an active streak of at least one catch in 27 consecutive games, and recorded 50 receptions for 649 yards for Notre Dame in 2012. With tight end Tyler Eifert now in the NFL, CBSSports.com NFL Draft expert Dane Brugler says Jones is poised for a breakout season in 2013.
"Jones has excellent footwork in his routes and sets up his moves well, doing a nice job working back to the ball to give his quarterback a clean target," Brugler writes. "He fights for the ball and shows strong hands to come down with throws away from his body, making some tough catches look easy. Jones has an accurate sense of his surroundings with good shake after the catch to slither around defenders and explode upfield."
Accurate sense of his surroundings? I'd say so.