The goals are unchanging, the moments exactly like the opportunities that lie in front of Dawand Jones.
Ohio Stateâ€™s mountainous freshman offensive tackle, he of the 6-foot-8, slimmed-down, 360-pound frame, is a member of a team bound for the College Football Playoffs later this month against Clemson, precisely because of a vision for moments like the recent Big Ten title.
Jones does his part daily to both will and work these moments into reality.
â€œIn our meeting room, we have this wall where all the legends are, all the All-Americans are,â€ Jones told Lettermen Row. â€œAnd thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m just chasing, honestly. On my paper that I have where we have our goals, [it’s written down] to be the next Orlando Pace. Thatâ€™s my goal, honestly, going out there.
â€œI write down those goals every day and try to live it out every day in practice.â€
Pace, of course, is a former two-time consensus All-American at Ohio State, 2013 College Football Hall of Fame inductee and 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame honoree.
In pursuit of those accolades, Jones is seeking to maximize this monthâ€™s extra practices with the Buckeyes — the spoils of being an undefeated team tracking toward a showdown with defending national champion Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.
Jones knows now is the time to capitalize on the bonus sessions and begin further establishing his foundation as a future anchor along the Ohio State offensive line.
â€œItâ€™s the playoffs season and weâ€™re going to be getting some extra reps, so Iâ€™m going to take advantage of that,â€ said Jones, who impressed the coaching staff enough to avoid an expected redshirt season. â€œIn the winter, Iâ€™m going to take advantage of that. Make sure I lose weight and get where I need to be for the next season.
â€œFor me, itâ€™s honestly a blessing. To go through this process since June and just buying into what these coaches have been saying, itâ€™s just crazy. Truly a blessing from God.â€
A one-time basketball recruit who held NCAA Division I scholarship offers on the hardwood and led his Ben Davis (Indianapolis) High School to a state title, Jones is seeing the benefits of weight-loss since his Columbus arrival and motivated for even greater gains in mobility.
â€œI came in, lost 20, 25, 30 pounds,â€ Jones said. â€œIâ€™m just going to keep losing them so I can be at a good weight that I can play at.
â€œHonestly, at 360, it does feel better. It feels better. So if I lose some more weight, it will probably feel even better. I just want to keep grinding down and keep getting in the weight room, running and conditioning and cardio. All that to get down to where I need to be.â€
Of course, itâ€™s the path in front of him here at Ohio State that lets Jones know he is exactly where he envisioned being.
â€œHonestly, I sat down with my high school coach to figure out which school was the best option for me, and not just because weâ€™re winning, but this school is going to develop me for sure and get me to where I want to be,â€ Jones said. â€œNo matter if thatâ€™s the NFL or not, I know Ohio State will develop me.
â€œIâ€™m happy I made the decision to be here.â€
Happy to be in the chase — for a national title and the sizable aspirations for Dawand Jones to follow some of the gameâ€™s greats.