When Jonathan Bonner signed with Notre Dame, it didn't give the Irish much of a bump in the recruiting rankings.
A 3-star prospect from Missouri, Bonner only checked in at 599th on the 247 Sports composite rankings. While he had offers from the home-state Tigers and Michigan State, his offer and commitment after attending the Irish summer camp raised a few eyebrows.
Yet upon signing Bonner, Notre Dame's staff was incredibly impressed by not just the player on the field, but the student-athlete off of it. Veteran defensive coach Bob Elliott had this to say about Bonner, per Notre Dame Football's site.
This is one of the great stories in my 35-year college career. As we were walking back to our car, Coach Kelly and Jonathan in front and I was behind with the parents and coaches. As we turned down the hall and around the corner, we came right by the lunch room. And in the lunch room of his high school Parkway Central, there were probably 300 kids eating at the time. And when they saw Jon walking around the corner with Coach Kelly, they all stood up and applauded for Jon Bonner. It was maybe the most impressive thing I've ever seen, a testament to a kid who is so highly respected and loved in his school.
Yet more impressive than anything Bonner has done on the field is a letter he wrote himself in the eighth grade. Part crystal ball, part maturity and wisdom beyond words, Bonner shared the typed letter he sent himself on the eve of high school and posted it on Twitter.
This is you from eighth grade. I hope you're doing okay. Off to college, huh? You better be. Think about how much freedom you'll have. You've grown up and now you're off on your own. You have a lot to look forward to.
It's almost the end of your eighth grade school year. Right now you were looking forward to summer, high school, and the biggest thing, football. You need to get either that TE or DE position. Did you get it? Right now what you don't what being a freshman will be like but you are anxious. Hopefully you played hard enough to go off to Notre Dame. If not, you better at least be going off to college.
In college there are some things you must avoid. First off, stay away from drugs and alcohol. If you have touched a drug I consider you a failure and you better change now or you are wasting your life. Same thing with alcohol, it will make you do stupid stuff and you will end up in bad situations. Second, stay away from knuckleheads (words from mom). They will get you into trouble. Finally, try to stay away from weapons. The only reason you should be using one is if you are going off into the army or you are in physical threat. DON'T LOOK FOR REVENGE! Use your hands if necessary. This should also be a last resort.
Here are some things you need to work hard at. First and most importantly, school. You will not get anywhere without it. Second off, work hard at football so, you can get yourself off to the NFL and make some money. You must also be respectful and responsibility to others and they will do the same to you. Your main goal is just to succeed.
Someone you need to be nice to is your sister. At this age in eighth grade she means everything to you and if you have lost her, you have lost yourself. You need her almost as much as you need yourself. She has been there for everything and your entire life so don't even try to bail on her. Who knows? You may need her someday.
As you should see you have grown and you have a lot of life left. Make it worthwhile and don't screw up.
Bonner might not turn into an All-American at the college level. But that doesn't mean he's not the perfect role model.