Elijah Jones wakes up at 5 a.m. three times a week to lift weights, improve his speed and get better as a football player. After all, the junior defensive back from Upland, Calif., has less than a year to achieve his goal of signing a National Letter of Intent to play for a Division-I program.
Jones holds a scholarship offer from San Diego State and picked up another on Monday from San Jose State. Numerous schools are interested in the 5-foot-11, 185-pound, versatile three-star prospect, Colorado being one of them.
"Coach [Andy] LaRussa talks to me a lot. I get about one hand-written letter from him a week. He came to my school a couple of weeks ago and he's been on me on Twitter and Facebook," Jones said in an interview with BuffZone.
"He's a funny guy, I like him, I like talking to him," he continued.
LaRussa leads Colorado's recruiting efforts in the Inland Empire -- the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area east of Los Angeles.
Upland is well represented on CU's roster and there could be more Highlanders on the way.
"It's pretty good to get Pac-12 interest. Colorado is a good school," Jones said of the Buffs. "You know, three kids from Upland went there two years ago, so it's good to have that."
Jones was referring to running backs Christian Powell and Donta Abron and defensive back Marques Mosley, all sophomores with the Buffs, all former Highlanders.
Jones said he had a successful junior season as his team's top cover corner. He finished with 60 tackles, 15 pass break ups and an interception.
"I moved around quite a bit. I played corner ... I played a little safety and I played outside linebacker," Jones said, adding he hopes to get in the mix on the offensive side of the ball as a senior.
"I'm aggressive. I like playing physical, I like playing man press. ... I love making a big hit."
Recruiting is picking up for the Southern California junior. He has 7-on-7s on tap and a trip to a Rivals camp in the near future. The website's showcases are a way for players to gain attention in the non-stop world of recruiting. Football has no true offseason.
"Colorado, San Diego State, Washington, Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Vanderbilt, Washington State, most of the Pac-12," Jones said on what schools he's hearing from so far. He added that he's looking for a good fit for the next four or five years of his life and academics are a top priority, the school's coaching staff second.
Location is important, too, and Jones is familiar with the state of Colorado, albeit the Northwestern corner.
"We do have family in Colorado, Steamboat Springs. I haven't been to Boulder, but I've been to Steamboat a couple of times," Jones said. "I'm definitely trying to get out there this spring or summer."
Upland coach Tim Salter speaks highly of Jones' play on the field and his work in the classroom.
"Elijah played for us this last year; it was his first year playing for us. He was a transfer from Damien High School [La Verne, Calif.]," Salter told BuffZone.
"[He] played corner and safety for us. He did a terrific job, became our primary cover corner ... he did a really good job this year. We played some really good teams."
Upland battles multiple teams filled with future Pac-12 players and Salter believes Jones has a high ceiling for his senior season and beyond.
"I think the high end for him as a Division-I player is definitely there, no question about it," he said.