By Kenton Brooks
WAGONER — Dale Condict got the telephone call last spring. It was Brent Venables, the University of Oklahoma defensive coordinator, on the other end of the line.
Condict, the Wagoner High School coach, sent out videotapes of linebacker Gus Jones. Venables couldn’t call back fast enough.
“He called to say he had misplaced the film, but later found it and watched it,” Condict said. “He said he took it into coach (Bob) Stoops and told him, ‘We’ve got one here.’”
Stoops apparently agreed. The Sooners’ pursuit of Jones ended Wednesday — the national signing day for high school football players —with the signing of the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder to a scholarship.
“(Venables) told me Gus reminded him of Curtis Lofton (a former standout linebacker at OU) the first time he saw him because of the effort Gus gave in a game,” Condict said. “That’s a pretty nice comparison.”
As it turns out, Venables reminded Jones of someone he knew and respected. Guy Gaylor was a former linebackers coach at Wagoner now at Broken Arrow.
“They are two guys with tremendous energy,” Jones said. “They strive to push you harder and that’s what I’m looking for in a college coach.”
Jones is one of three prep linebackers signed by the Sooners. joining Ronnell Lewis of Dewar and Tom Wort of New Braunfels, Texas. He finished his senior season with 111 tackles, including 12 for a loss with five fumble recoveries, four sacks and 15 quarterback pressures.
Chosen to the All-Phoenix Area Football Team, Jones made a non-binding verbal commitment to the Sooners. He later took recruiting trips to Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Arkansas, Kansas State as well as Oklahoma. He was also recruited by Texas Tech, Missouri and Kansas.
The other schools were nice, but Jones knew he wanted to be a Sooner.
“When comparing the coaches and the tradition they have there for winning is why I chose OU,” he said. “Once I got there, I felt better there than any college I was at.”
Still, Jones gave it a lot of thought before choosing the Sooners to continue his playing career..
“You’re picking the place you’re going to be at for the next four-five years,” he said. “You’ve got to look at it all. It may be good now, but you’ve got look at the long run.”
In his post-signing press conference, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops noted the need at linebacker where they’ll lose four next season.
“All these guys are athletic players, they all have range and size. All of them have played really well at the schools they have been in,” Stoops said.
Jones did look at the future of linebacker at OU.
“I feel I have a good chance at starting in the next couple of years,” he said. “I think once I get the basics and get into the rhythm there, I’ll fit right in.”
Jones is the first Wagoner player to sign a Division I football scholarship since offensive lineman Scott Kempenich in 1996. He played on the Sooners’ national championship team in 2000.
Jones wasn’t the only Bulldog to sign a scholarship on Wednesday. Aaron Applegate, also a linebacker, signed with Central Oklahoma. That brings the total of players signing scholarships in Condict’s four-year reign to 12.