SAN ANTONIO — When Steele football coach David Saenz told blue-chip Knights cornerback Jaylon Jones this summer that he also would be a starting wide receiver as a senior, Jones responded the way he always has when he's faced a challenge.
He went to work.
Jones put in extra time in the weight room and stepped up his cardiovascular training to increase his stamina. He also went to school to learn the nuances of Steele's multiple offense.
"Pretty much working on my technique every day, working out every day," Jones said, reflecting on his summer. "I knew this season I was going to have to be out there and do my thing. Pretty much did the best for me, so I could help out the team.
"I'm playing a lot more than I expected, which is fine. I'm going to put my all out there for the team at all times. I'm just doing everything."
That's no idle boast, either. Jones does just about everything but drive the team bus for the Knights, who play Churchill in their last non-district game Friday night at Heroes Stadium.
Besides playing offense and defense, he's on the kickoff team, kickoff-return team, punt team and punt-return team for Steele (2-0).
"It's pretty much doing it all," Jones said.
And what does he prefer playing, offense or defense?
"I'm a defensive guy," Jones said. "I like being physical. I like the position I play."
Jones has made seven tackles – three solos and four assists – and caused one fumble in the first two games of the season.
Jones, 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, committed to Texas A&M in February and was selected the state's preseason defensive player of the year by Texas Football magazine this summer.
"He was here working throughout the whole summer, not only in our camp, but (with) trainers and different things outside (school)," Saenz said. "He just understood the expectations of him this year, and he stepped up to them. He's done a tremendous job for us."
Jones' sheer athletic ability and skill set has made him an important cog in the Knights' offense this season. He leads the team with eight receptions for 243 yards, an average of 30.4 yards a catch, and two touchdowns.
"Just trying to be the best me I can be to help out the team," Jones said.
Steele junior quarterback Wyatt Begeal couldn't say enough good things about Jones starting at wide receiver this season.
"Having Jaylon on the offensive side of the ball is amazing," Begeal said. "Having a threat like him opens up the run game because teams cannot solo him up. When the ball touches his hands, he's dangerous and he's a broken tackle away from 70-yard touchdown runs.
"He is humble and works hard. He's always looking to get better and will back down from nobody."
Jones has played on the Steele varsity since his freshman season when he was moved up from the JV for the playoffs. Jones was a defensive back as a freshman and sophomore. He also saw some action at running back last year.
Saenz said it was a no-brainer to start Jones at wide receiver this season.
"A player of that caliber, he's a weapon on defense and the kicking game," Saenz said. "We used him a little bit last year as well, toward the end of the season, on offense. I just told him, 'Be ready. You may get a lot of offensive snaps this year.'
"He accepted that. He's come in, he's worked his butt off. He came in, in great shape, and he's played both ways for us."
Jones is the latest in an outstanding line of Steele defensive backs who have gone on to play at FBS schools.
The Knights have four former defensive backs in the Big 12 this season – Caden Sterns (Texas), Jayveon Cardwell (Oklahoma State), Xavier Player (Oklahoma State) and JT Woods (Baylor) – and Chace Cromartie is at SMU.
Sterns' older brother, Jordan, who played on Steele's Class 5A Division I state championship team in 2010, went on to have a stellar career at OSU. D.J. Jones, who graduated from Steele in 2009, played defensive back at the University of Houston.
"We've been blessed to have some really, really good defensive backs, or just (outstanding) players overall here at Steele," Saenz said. "And he (Jones) fits that mold of just being one of the hardest workers, being one of the best players we have."
Asked what makes Jones such an outstanding defensive back, Saenz said: "A lot of it has to do with his metrics. He's 6-3, 190 pounds. He's very long. He's coachable. He takes coaching.
"He does the things that we ask him to do here, from playing press man (coverage) to playing off. Whatever coverage we're trying to do on the defensive end, he adapts and he does what we ask him to do."
Jones' speed and size make him a difficult wide receiver to cover. As Begeal noted, he also has the ability to run for big yardage after he makes a reception.
"You get him in space, you get him one on one with somebody, we're going to like our chances with the ball in his hands," Saenz said. "That just goes to talking about his football IQ as well, when it comes to learning the offense, along with learning the defense.
"He knew that coming in and he's done a tremendous job of learning the offensive aspect of it, along with doing with what he does on defense."
Jones' said his official visit to A&M on the weekend of the Aggies' spring game reinforced his decision to go to college in College Station.
"Pretty much the university and how beautiful it was," Jones said, responding to a question about what sold him on A&M. "It just felt like home. I felt like that's where I needed to be. That's why I'm taking my talents to (there)."
Jones, whose father was in the Navy, was born in Jacksonville, Fla., and lived in Miami and Japan before his family moved to San Antonio in 2010.
"I was coming into my second semester of third grade," Jones said. "Been here ever since."
After playing Churchill, Steele opens 26-6A play against defending champion Judson next Friday night at Lehnhoff Stadium. The Rockets and Knights were picked this summer to finish 1-2 in the league race this season.
"Very hard, disciplined, very competitive," Jones said of District 26-6A, which also includes Smithson Valley and Clemens. "Every single team in this district, they can go. Every week is a statement."
How good can this Steele team be?
"It can be real great, executing every play, doing the little things right," Jones said. "Basically, just giving it our all. All the training we did in the offseason, it's just paying off right now with our 2-0 start. We're trying to get 16 (games) in and bring the state (championship) back to Cibolo."
Steele quickly established a winning tradition under its first head coach, Mike Jinks, after opening in 2005. The Knights won state in their fifth varsity season and have reached the state finals two other times (2011, 2016).
Steele is 148-34, including 39-11 in the playoffs, in the history of the program.
Jones was in elementary school when he started going to Steele games.
"I always wanted to be a Knight," he said.