By Alex Byington
Harker Heights Herald
It wasn't long ago that DeAndre Jones didn't know whether he'd ever play competitive football again.
A talented and athletic prospect on film, the Harker Heights senior tailback had seemingly fallen off the recruiting radar after a pair of sub-400-yard rushing seasons.
But with a late push from the University of Wyoming, Jones found his next stomping ground, signing a letter of intent with the Cowboys on National Signing Day at the Knights field house Wednesday morning.
"It was kind of rough not knowing where you were going to go until the last minute, and if I could do it again, I wouldn't want to wait that long," Jones said. "But I'm proud of what I've got - I'm blessed."
Invited for an official visit last week, Jones made an 11th-hour trip to the Laramie, Wyo., campus this past weekend and really felt coveted despite no other scholarship offers.
"They really showed me they wanted me, so that's the school I decided on," said the 6-foot, 180-pound Jones.
The only caveat, Wyoming wanted him as an defensive back - a position Jones hasn't played since he was a sophomore. Not that a position change made any difference, of course.
"I'm an athlete - I'll play anything," he said. "It comes kind of naturally to me."
A preseason starter at tailback this past season after playing behind 1,300-yard rusher Kerry Sloan as a junior, Jones had 390 yards rushing and seven touchdowns as a senior, despite missing three games for disciplinary reasons.
"A lot of schools don't want to question your character or anything like that, so a lot of them stayed away," Jones said. "And the one's I had left, so that affected my recruitment and had me very worried."
Despite a few tenuous months after the season, Jones' highlight reel still made its rounds through the offices of several Division I programs, eventually drawing the attention of Wyoming recruiting coordinator and secondary coach Alex Grinch.
"After everything that happened, for me to come out with a Division I scholarship, I feel really blessed," Jones said. "It's bittersweet, kind of, but I'm happy with whatever I got."
Babb signs with Buffs
When Tyler Babb made it to his college of choice Sunday, he didn't have to go far to find a suit with matching colors.
Wearing a school-color matching suit already sitting in his closet, the Harker Heights linebacker, signed with West Texas A&M.
"Ever since I committed to West Texas A&M, I've been waiting for this moment to happen and it's finally here," said Babb, who had 76 tackles working at both linebacker and defensive line. "I can't be more excited."
Heights gold medalist signs with UT
Dressed in an all-too-familiar Longhorns polo, Kyle Thompson was just happy to get the business out of the way.
Thompson signed a letter of intent Wednesday to run track at Texas at the Knights field house.
"I'm just pretty relieved I've got it all over with, I don't have to worry about college stuff any more," Thompson said. "I can just sit back, relax and finish out my high school career."
Thompson, who took home gold in the boys 800-meter run at the Class 5A state meet last May, is seeking a third straight state championship after winning as a sophomore in Kansas.
Ash returns to Belton
David Ash said it felt good to be back.
Ash, who is already on campus at Texas, returned to Belton for a signing ceremony at the high school.
"It feels good to be back mostly and to see everyone again," he said. "It is so important because there are so many people here I owe a lot to because they helped me along the way."
As for Austin? That is starting to smooth itself out. Ash, a quarterback and punter, has been participating in team workouts along with some of the other Longhorns.
"It has been pretty bumpy and hectic getting settled in, but pretty soon it will get in a routine," Ash said. "It is a big change. It is a lot different from high school.
"It is a step up in responsibility, managing your time and you have to grow up quick."
Henderson picks TVCC
Adrian Henderson wants to prove the doubters wrong.
The Belton wide receiver can only do that if he is on the field, signing with Trinity Valley Community College.
"I wanted to go somewhere I was wanted and not just used as a depth chart guy," Henderson said, who caught 53 passes for 743 yards and 13 touchdowns.
"I think the opportunity to showcase my skills and possibly get the D-I offer I always wanted," he said. "A lot of people doubted me, but having a lot of playing time will give me a chance."