Suburban St. Louis is where Jonathan Bonner (Chesterfield, Mo./Parkway Central) resides, but his family school lies in South Bend.
“I have some family that went to Notre Dame and played football there,” Bonner said. “It’s my family’s school.”
It will soon be Bonner’s school, too, as he committed to the Fighting Irish shortly after earning an offer from coach Brian Kelly.
“The academics for sure, and the fact that they have a great program,” Bonner said were some of the reasons he committed. “Along with those academics, they’re a highly respected team. It’s not too far from home. My great uncle stays about eight minutes from the campus. Almost everything went right with them.”
Bonner, 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, will play the CAT linebacker position in the Irish’s 3-4 defensive scheme. The position consists of about 90 percent pass rushing. The rest of the time Bonner will drop in pass coverage.
He went to Notre Dame’s camp last weekend and spent the first session working out at defensive end. Some of the Irish’s committed offensive linemen and several BCS-level linemen went up against Bonner, and Bonner said he did not lose any one-on-one drills.
Before the following session, Bonner started cramping, and the coaches told him he did not need to participate in the second part of the camp. Bonner still ran a 40-yard dash for the coaches, who then wanted to see Bonner’s agility and movement. They put him in linebacker and pass coverage drills, where he continued to excel.
He finished the camp with more one-on-one competitions with the linemen.
“The coaches said they couldn’t find someone to beat me,” Bonner said.
The Notre Dame offer was a special one for Bonner, whose uncle Dan Knott played for the Irish in the 1970s. Knott always hoped his nephew would one day wear the blue and gold, as he did four decades ago.
“That’s been his dream for me as well,” Bonner said. “He wanted someone to follow up and play football at Notre Dame, so it’s a dream come true for him as well.”
Bonner’s grandfather also has a godson, Sergio Brown, who played at Notre Dame. Bonner said he hopes to meet Brown sometime soon, possibly when he visits Notre Dame again in July.
Both Knott and Brown are already telling Bonner his time at Notre Dame will be the best years of his life.
“They said it’s a great place, that the kind of experience you have there is like none other,” Bonner said. “You have a family for the rest of your life you can depend on.”