Eupora's Derrick Jones takes the football up the field during a game earlier this season. (Photo by Richard Love, For Starkville Daily News)
EUPORA â€“ It came as no shock to Derrick Jonesâ€™ team and his coach when the senior was chosen for the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game.
â€śWe have known all along how talented Derrick was,â€ť Eupora football coach Junior Graham said. â€śItâ€™s been refreshing to see him come into his own and start performing to the level we knew he was capable of. He has become one of those players that takes routine plays and turns them into big-time producing plays.â€ť
Jones beamed as he expressed his excitement about being chosen to the All-Star squad.
â€śItâ€™s a blessing to play in such a big game,â€ť said Jones. â€śI am excited to be counted among the best in the state and to get to play with such talented guys. I just want to get out there and play.â€ť
Jonesâ€™ love of football began at a very early age, when the wide receiver was still playing in the pee-wee leagues.
â€śI have always played football,â€ť Jones said. â€śFor a little while there, my focus was on basketball, but the more I was on the field with the ball in my hand, the more I grew to love football.â€ť
According to Graham, Jonesâ€™ earlier years with the Eagles have made him into the all-star caliber player he is today.
â€śIt has been fun to watch Derrick mature,â€ť Graham said. â€śIn previous years, he did not show as much toughness, but this year he has really stepped it up and matured both mentally and physically.â€ť
While Graham attributes Jones success to his maturing, the Eagle points the finger back at his coach.
â€śCoach Graham means a lot to me,â€ť Jones said. â€śI probably wouldnâ€™t be the person I am today without his guidance. He stayed on me and wouldnâ€™t let me quit. He made me work hard and that has been one of the biggest keys to my success.â€ť
That toughness Graham described is expressed in the wide receivers statistics for the 2012 season. Thus far, Jones has accumulated 33 receptions for 655 yards and picked up an additional 133 yards rushing on 12 carries, resulting in 11 Eagle touchdowns.
When not showing out on the field, Jones enjoys spending time with his teammates â€“ a hobby that he says contributes to Euporaâ€™s success on the field.
â€śI really like hanging out with my teammates,â€ť Jones said. â€śWe feel that the more time we spend together, even when it is off the field, the closer we become. That closeness makes us a better team and enhances our performance on the field.â€ť
Right now the future for Jones involves finishing the rest of the season, beginning with Friday night where the Eagles hope to clinch a Class 2A, Region 2, District 4 championship.
â€śOur focus is on Friday night,â€ť Jones said. â€śWe want to win district and that begins with Fridayâ€™s game. We just have to go out there, play our game and take care of business. After that, we really want to play in Jackson and compete for a state championship.â€ť
Once the season is over, Jones will be continuing his football days at the University of Mississippi. After that the senior is not certain where he wants to go, but there is one thing for sure, he wants to make Eupora proud.
â€śEupora means a lot to me,â€ť Jones said. â€śThis community has given me a lot and they want you to be the best you can be. They expect a lot from me and I want to make them proud no matter what I am doing.â€ť
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