Last week Drew Jones and his family took an unofficial visit to the University of Texas.
He came back a Longhorn.
After a whirlwind day of taking in the 40-acres and all Austin had to offer, Texas golf coach John Field offered the Decatur freshman a scholarship. Jones immediately accepted.
He becomes one of the youngest verbal commitments in the illustrious history of the Texas golf program that has produced the likes of Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Justin Leonard, Bob Estes, Jhonattan Vegas and most recently Jordan Spieth.
The Longhorns are also the defending national champions.
“I’ve always wanted to play for Texas,” Jones said. “All kids that play serious golf like I do, dream of something like this.”
Drew’s parents thought this day might eventually come, but they never thought it would be this early.
“Words can’t describe how proud we are of Drew,” his father, Steve Jones, said. “Being able to go down to Texas and talk to the coaches was a surreal experience that doesn’t come along very often.
“We are very, very blessed and thrilled with what has happened.”
He had a club in his hand at the age of 2-and was regularly playing in the backyard with his dad at 5. Jones now practices four to five hours a day.
At the age of 7, he stared working with his current swing coach, Teddy Ashcraft, who says the lefty is one of the best young golfers he’s seen.
“He’s got an extreme amount of natural ability,” Ashcraft said. “He’s got a lot of confidence, very competitive, but at the same time he’s not cocky.”
Ashcraft has played on numerous professional tours and brings a lot of insight and experience to the table. Within the first year, he knew he was working with someone special who has amazing potential.
“The sky’s the limit. He handles things really well,” Ashcraft said. “It bothers him if he doesn’t play well. He’s got an excellent work ethic and is extremely goal oriented.”
Jones says he never would have gotten this far, this fast, without his coach’s help.
“I couldn’t have done it without him,” Jones said. “I had some talent, but I needed some help. Having him as my swing coach helps a lot.”
There were other big programs interested in Jones, and he has always been told to keep his options open. Being a Texas fan growing up and getting overwhelmed during his visit, the decision to get the recruiting process out of the way was an easy one.
If Texas was going to offer, he knew he was going to accept.
“I grew up liking Texas, so it was going to always be Texas,” he said.
Now that Jones has made the history-making commitment, he has to deal with the stigma that comes with it. Decatur began their spring high-school golf schedule this week.
For four more years he will be the phenom among his opponents who has a target on his back. It’s a situation Jones has put a lot of thought into.
“You’ve got to back it up,” Jones said. “When you hear names that have done this – it’s been intimidating for me. I do think it’s a big bonus though, getting this process off my back.”
It’s a lot to put on a kid who is two years away from having a driver’s license, but Ashcraft says Jones welcomes the pressure.
“He understands it. I told him when he got back that he has a target on his chest now, and he said he likes it,” Ashcraft said. “He doesn’t look at it as ‘I’ve made it.’ He doesn’t just want to play at Texas; he wants to be the best player at Texas.
“His sights are high, and he is a phenomenal young man.”