EL PASO, Texas - BREAKING: UTEP football player Aaron Jones and all-time leading rusher for the program decided to forgo his senior year and declared for the NFL Draft in 2017 instead.
"I have decided trust I want to declare for the 2017 (NFL) draft," said Jones.
During a Saturday morning news conference, Jones thanked God for the opportunity to play. He went on to recognize those who have helped him succeed as a collegiate player, including his parents and brother, Alvin Jones, also a football player for UTEP.
"I feel like this is the best move for me," he said.
His family sat next to him as he made the announcement at the Larry K. Durham Center at UTEP.
"This is not an easy decision for me," Jones said.
Jones gave thanks to UTEP football head coach, Sean Kugler, for allowing Jones and his brother Alvin to play for the Miners.
"No school in the nation gave us the opportunity, he believed in us from day one," said Aaron.
Jones did not go on without acknowledging his Burges High School and church families for all their support. Aaron and Alvin both played at Burges.
Jones got emotional as he talked about his time at UTEP.
"UTEP will always be my home, I will graduate from here and I will get my degree, said Jones as he wiped away tears and leaned on his father.
When asked about the NFL grade and what it predicted for Jones, he said it recommended to return to school.
"With Coach Kugler and him connections, and the agents made connections, they gathered some information and it looks good for me right now."
Jones said there were several factors in his decision, including having several conversations with Coach Kugler and his family.
"Running backs don't last long in the NFL so that's one of the major factors...I'm ready for the next challenge in my life," said Jones.
Jones said he will get more feedback from Kugler and review more film before he leaves to Carlsbad, California, where he will train.
Jones said he doesn't have a preference on what team he wants to play for, but would like to be picked up in the third round.
Kugler jokingly said he would like to see Jones play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he coached for two years.
Jones later joked that his favorite professional team is the Dallas Cowboys.
"I just want the opportunity," said Jones.
Coach Kugler said he gave him as much information as possible then let Jones make his decision.
"My job now is to support his decision and make sure he's ready to go," said Kugler.
Kugler went on to praise Jones' work ethic on the field.
"He's going to play in the NFL for a long time," said Kugler of Jones.
Jones ended his news conference by saying he wants to leave a legacy for UTEP and encourage other local football players to pursue their dreams.
It comes as no surprise considering Jones passed John Harvey's record of 3,576 yards which was set back in 1988. He is also just the third UTEP running back to reach 3,000 career rushing yards and the third Miner ever, and first since Howard Jackson to produce multiple 1,000-yard seasons during a career.
"Kids from El Paso can do what they want."