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In the South Florida game, a pass from Rees hit Jones in the helmet. Jones wasn’t looking for the ball. Kelly was caught by television cameras yelling at the young receiver, but Jones said he understood that he needed to learn from the play and move on.

“With everything that’s happened, it’s put a lot of things in perspective for me,” Jones said. “A lot of the little things I used to let get to me, I realized this year don’t matter. I’ve seen the bigger picture and that’s what I focus on now and push myself working towards.”

Jones was used to the criticism.

“He was my toughest critic, but he was also my biggest fan and he used to tell me that after every time we would talk,” Jones said of his father.

Andre Jones went through many of the situations his son deals with at Notre Dame, and TJ Jones said he misses the conversations the two would have about being a college football player in South Bend.

“It’s changed a lot for me because I don’t have that person to go to when I have questions about football or life at Notre Dame because he knew all that,” Jones said. “So I don’t really have anyone to talk to now.”

Now, Jones said he relies on wide receivers coach Tony Alford for life lessons. In June, Alford was the first to inform Jones that his father was sick.

“I know (Alford) and my dad had a very close relationship,” Jones said. “He’s kind of like that father figure in my life here on campus. So I’m able to talk to him about anything if I needed to.”

Jones calls home several times a week to talk to his mother, brothers and sisters. He’s there to help his brother playing high school football and his mother raising a family of five at home.

“I just think to myself every day that I’ve got six other people at home that are counting on me,” Jones said. “So every day I’ve got to push myself that much harder to make sure that I make it not for myself, but also for my family. I know they’re counting on me.”