Michigan vs. Notre Dame notebook: Demetrius Jones ditches ND for Northern

Tim Cronin

Demetrius Jones is trading Notre Dame for Northern Illinois.

Jones, who abruptly left the Notre Dame campus after Thursday’s practice, already has enrolled at the DeKalb school, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The Morgan Park High School graduate’s switch is the latest surprise in his status. Jones took the field for Notre Dame’s opener against Georgia Tech as the starter, but was pulled by head coach Charlie Weis before the end of the first half in favor of Evan Sharpley, who soon yielded to highly touted freshman Jimmy Clausen.

Jones, who rushed for 28 yards on a dozen carries, fumbling twice, didn’t play last week in the loss at Penn State, with Clausen going the distance.

Weis first had an inkling that Jones was leaving Notre Dame when Jones didn’t board the bus for the trip to Michigan from campus. Jones did not meet with Weis beforehand.

“I found out at quarter after 2 yesterday,” Weis said. “I’ll wait (to comment) until after I talk to him. I don’t know all the gory details. I was very, very surprised.”

Not until Saturday morning was it learned that Jones, who will be a sophomore in terms of eligibility next year, was going to Northern Illinois, using this season as his redshirt year. If all the paperwork is taken care of correctly, he’ll be eligible to play for the Huskies in 2008, because the 12th day of class for Northern Illinois isn’t until Wednesday. Under NCAA rules, if he enrolled after the 12th day of class is held, he wouldn’t be able to play until 2009.

Dan Nicholson, the current starting Huskie quarterback, is a junior, setting up a battle for the position between two players who live only a few miles apart in Chicago. With Jones absent, the Irish brought both Darrin Bragg and Justin Gillett, who aren’t even on the depth chart Weis issues, to dress against the Wolverines behind Sharpley.

Jones is the second quarterback to leave Notre Dame in less than a year. Zach Frazer, also a sophomore, departed for Connecticut after spring practice, when Weis demoted him to fourth-string.

Streaking

Notre Dame’s last five-game losing streak was in 1963, when the Irish lost their last five games under Hugh Devore, including the last Irish loss to Navy. Ara Parseghian took over in 1964. The Irish last lost six straight in 1960, when Joe Kuharich’s second team dropped eight straight, beating only California at the start of the season and Southern California at the end.

This is only the second time the Irish have lost their first three games. The first time was in 2001 (Nebraska, Michigan State, Texas A&M). They’ve never lost their first four.

Around the field

Notre Dame has allowed 23 sacks in three games after allowing just 31 in 13 games last season and only 21 in 2005. ... Michigan snapped a four-game losing streak and hosts Penn State next week. ... The 38-0 score matched the outcome of the 2003 game, when Michigan outgained the Irish 439-140. This time, the yardage margin was 379-79. ... Mike Hart moved to third on Michigan’s career rushing list, behind Jamie Morris and Anthony Thomas.

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