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Central's Jones thinking of late father on signing day

Central Gwinnett's Malachi Jones, his family, and coaches pose for a photo after he signed his national letter of intent on Wednesday.

Central Gwinnett's Malachi Jones, his family, and coaches pose for a photo after he signed his national letter of intent on Wednesday.

As his fellow Central Gwinnett senior football players posed for signing day photos with their families, Malachi Jones couldn't help but think about the family member missing in his life.

Jones' father Andre, a member of Notre Dame's 1988 NCAA championship team, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm before the wide receiver's senior season. The younger Jones brought along a large photo of his father in a Notre Dame uniform to the signing ceremony at Lawrenceville's Old Town Tavern, posing for photos with it after signing with Appalachian State.

"Today was definitely a bittersweet day," Jones said. "I got a text from my older brother this morning that said, '(Dad's) watching you. He's smiling.' I know he is. But at the same time, I wish he was in one of those chairs in front of me. I know I couldn't have gotten here without him."

Jones set a Gwinnett County record for catches in a season as a Central senior after playing previously at Wesleyan.