With a conviction associated with his running style, D.J. Jones went full force towards the next level.
But while his eyes were always pointed towards the end zone, the Denison senior running back found his mind looking back at the past four years.
"It feels pretty good. High school flew by pretty fast," he said. I'm going to miss the guys I played with."
Jones put a flourish on his Yellow Jacket career when he signed a national letter of intent on Wednesday morning to play for Texas A&M.
"I look back at hard work 24-7," Jones said. "That's what Coach (Cody) White expects. You give your best effort and it shows on the field."
After committing to the Aggies right before Christmas, Jones made an official visit two weekends ago and knew it was the right fit for him.
"It sealed it. There wasn't any doubts about it," he said. "That's one of the most-known conferences. It's going to be fun going against some of my former teammates."
Jones ran for 2,257 yards and 30 touchdowns on 268 carries and caught 30 passes for 431 yards and four touchdowns as Denison went 13-2 and reached the state semifinals before losing to eventual champion Aledo.
The senior was a second-team all-state selection after earning first-team all-state honors as a junior, when he ran for a school record 2,646 yards and finished with 39 total touchdowns, 35 of them rushing.
He will graduate as the school's all-time leading rusher with 5,518 yards and is second in rushing touchdowns -- 68 -- to Corey Robertson's mark of 73. Jones had 28 100-yard games, also a Jacket record.
Jones also holds the Denison single-game records for yards, rushing touchdowns, total touchdowns and points after his 434-yard, eight TD (seven rushing) performance in a 65-54 victory over McKinney last season.
"It just makes me want to work harder," Jones said. "Show them what Denison football is all about."
Texas A&M went 6-7 this past season with a loss to Georgia in the Independence Bowl. Sophomore Cyrus Gray and freshman Christine Michael each ran for more than 700 yards and 150 carries as A&M's offense was ranked among the best in the nation after averaging 33.9 points and 465.3 yards per game.
According to Rivals.com's rankings, Jones is a four-star recruit who is the 27th-best running back in the country and the 48th best player in the state of Texas for the Class of 2010. He is one of three running backs in A&M's 2010 class. The Aggies also signed Cedar Hill's Ben Malena, ranked 25th, and Mister Jones of Littleton, Colo, who was one spot behind Jones in the positional rankings.
"I did want to address the fact that we wanted to get some big guys to be able to run between the tackles, which I think is so important to be able to do that," Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman said. "Not to say the guys we have can't, they can. But I believe this group has the speed to get outside and also play between the tackles."
But the prospect of winning the battle for playing time was something Jones didn't shy away from.
"They said they were looking for someone to come in and run some people over," he said. "I think I can go ahead and do it."