Jerome Jones had been recruited by two colleges for his football prowess: Lindsey Wilson College from Columbia, Kentucky and Kentucky Wesleyan College from Owensboro. He had to decide Feb. 12 where he intended to go, and his zipped-up jacket held the answer.

As he stood to unzip it, a crowd of his peers at Fort Knox High School cheered him on, some anticipating which college he would choose with homemade signs. His gray T-shirt spelled out Lindsey Wilson.

"They both cared about reaching out but Lindsey Wilson went that extra mile to get me there and make me feel at home," said Jones.

Jones' parents sat next to him with his two younger brothers on either side, at times smiling and other times looking bashful as Jones spoke about their support. Jones' parents said his grades weren't always where they needed to be to get a scholarship, but football changed all that.

"Once he saw that he really wanted to play football and the discipline me and mom gave for bringing bad grades, he decided he was going to get his act together," said Jerome Sr. "That's what I'm more proud about."

Jones' mother, Evelyn, agreed.

"I'm proud of him because now he's got these two growing up behind him, so now they have something to look up at," said Evelyn. "He's setting a good example, which is awesome for them."

Head Coach Wes Arnold said his first season, in which Jones helped deliver four wins -- the most in over 15 years -- was a great start toward growing an atmosphere where the next generation of student-athletes can excel -- not just in football, but also academically. Jones' signing ceremony culminated the season.

"This is a great way to cap it off," said Arnold. "When you coach, you don't do it for money or wins. You want to see kids develop and grow."

According to Arnold, over a million students across America play high school football each year. Of that number, less than 2 percent get scholarship money to play at universities and colleges.

Arnold told the crowd that university coaches looking to recruit athletes typically ask the same three questions: "'What's their GPA?' The second thing is, 'What's their ACT score?' and the third thing is, they ask each coach about that person's character. That's what they want to know. They've already decided if they can play or not when they call us.

"In my opinion, Jerome excels in all three of those areas, as well as his athletic abilities, making him a great example of a student-athlete," concluded Arnold. "He's being rewarded for that by being able to play on at the next level."

Apart from playing football, Jones said he plans to study nursing while at Lindsey Wilson; his mother is a registered nurse and his older sister is studying to become one.