NORMAN — Last national signing day when thousands of student-athletes across the country signed letters of intent to play collegiate athletics, Jordan Evans wasn’t involved. The Norman North senior was sitting in class, nurturing a dream of one day earning the opportunity to do the same.
“It was just a dream then,” he said.
Wednesday, a dream came true for Evans and his family.
Seated next to his family and in front of a crowd of hundreds at Norman North, the All-State linebacker signed with Oklahoma, following in the footsteps of his father, Scott, who earned three straight All-Big Eight honors from 1988-90.
While Evans is ecstatic to play his college football a few miles down the road from where he blossomed into a star, his road to OU wasn’t always so clear. He didn’t grow up a football prodigy. In fact, he entered high school more focused on basketball. It wasn’t until a breakout junior season under first-year coach Wade Standley that Evans considered top-level college football a possibility. Playing for Bob Stoops barely crossed his mind.
“If you told me a year ago I’d be signing with OU, I would have questioned that,” he said. “It was a dream, but it was a dream I was willing to reach. I was willing to work as hard as I could to get that. It feels good. I have a big smile on my face right now.”
OU came into the mix late last season, well into North’s run to the Class 6A state title game that Evans keyed.
Evans was already mulling offers from New Mexico, Ohio and Colorado State, but after Sooner linebackers coach Tim Kish offered him a scholarship in November, he began seriously considering the Sooners.
A day later, Evans was on hand for OU’s wild overtime Bedlam victory over Oklahoma State. The experience cemented his decision. Soon after, he committed to OU.
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Wednesday’s signing was not just an end, but also a beginning for Evans; the first chapter in a story he will write over the next four or five years.
Memories of Ryan Broyles, another hometown product who became a Sooner, remain fresh for the Sooner Nation. Evans, known well for his five senior season kick returns for touchdowns and who, like Broyles, was not heavily nationally recruited, is sure to draw comparisons.
Fresh, too, are the memories of Texas A&M thrashing OU at the Cotton Bowl, where Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel embarrassed the Sooner defense. The loss left a sour taste in the mouths of Sooner fans, who hope Evans can play a major part in revitalizing that defense.
Even if it’s not clear where he might play. Evans is presumed a linebacker, but in comments made Wednesday, it’s clear Stoops is open to finding different ways to utilize his talents.
“He’s got the speed, the quickness and agility to play linebacker,” he said. “He’s got the size that you’re unsure where he’s going to end up growing to, and that’s good. Everybody likes him and where he ends up growing to, good. He’s just a great athlete.”
Standley was so impressed by Evans’ versatility, he used him as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation. North’s football coach believes it’s Evans’ work ethic that sets him apart.
“Jordan is such a great athlete and competitor, and his skills will translate well to college,” Standley said. “I’m excited for what the future holds for him.”
Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 210 pounds, Evans has the build to develop into an intimidating defensive presence. He’s focused on improving his speed and adding 15 to 20 pounds so he can fill that role for OU.
“I know the speed of the game is much faster, and that’s something I’m working to improve on,” he said. “Speed kills, and I’ve got to have that speed at the next level. I’m excited to get to the University and Oklahoma and hopefully bring some championships.”
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If Evans’ time at OU mirrors his time at North, he could be in for a prolific Sooner career. But before that ever begins, Evans is determined to not look too far ahead. He has a track meet this weekend he’s looking forward to and three more months as a high school student.
“I’ve got a couple more months to spend here with my friends,” he said. “I want to enjoy it.”
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